A time of transition

Over the next month or so this blogsite will undergo some changes in authorship and management. Eventually the style and design will likely change also, but that will be up to the new administrators.

A little review; many years ago I started a monthly newsletter with information about Santa Fe residential real estate. It has always been free and seemed well received by those that wanted to be on my mailing list. Years later, I converted the information into this blog format so it would be available 24/7 to any interested readers. Over the years various charts and spreadsheets were developed to illustrate the local trends of real estate sales and inventory in Santa Fe. Those same charts are still available to you by clicking on any item from the list in the left margin. In many cases the history of statistics runs from 2001 thru 2019.

The entire economic meltdown and real estate crash is reflected in the charts and figures, primarily visible in comparisons from 2007 to 2016. Yes it really did take us almost ten years to completely climb out of the hole we fell into. I do not choose to remind you how painful those years were for home sellers, mortgage lenders and Realtors alike. Now things are much different. Sales occur quickly and very few homes stay on the market for a long period of time. You’d have to find a poorly built dwelling with obsolete floor plan, missing canales, rotted out subfloors and aromas of mold to find a home that does not sell in short order. As always, the above average homes sell first. then average, then eventually the leftovers that someone learns to love despite its flaws. There is less than a three month inventory available in homes under $500,000. Even homes above a million show less than a year’s supply compared to 2009 when it took almost four years on average to sell a home.

So as yours truly, this trusted blogger, arrives at an age near 70, he has happily decided it is time to do new things and leave the blogging to others. In this case, santaferealestateconsultant.com that happens to be a talented team you will get to know soon enough. I have worked with Melissa Pippin-Carson and Roger Carson for many years and know they will be good stewards of this real estate blog. They already author a print column in the Santa Fe New Mexican monthly supplement for real estate known as the Guide. I cannot tell you which one does most of the writing or if its shared equally, but count on quality content and also know that you can confidently work with them accomplishing your own personal real estate needs. Their established success and leadership in the area real estate market makes them a top choice among real estate professionals.

Twicethesellingpower@gmail.com is their email address.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumber

The guys and gals that fix your things are probably pretty good at it, or you might not return to them to fix whatever broke. The people who wait on you when you are dining out are probably attentive and courteous and provide excellent service (someone else does the cooking, not the wait staff) and that might be a large reason you go back to that place on a regular basis. Real estate has its ups and downs, along with a host of top-notch people mixed in with those that can barely explain the necessity of a survey. Who do you like to work with? Is it safe to assume you have a true professional at your side when you wheel and deal in real estate? Lets hope so.

What is the purpose of negotiating one of the most important financial moves of your life (buying a home) if you are going to throw caution to the wind and hire the rookie with little or no seasoning or the broker that cuts their fees to get your business, only to forget to tell you about some important deadlines during escrow. Yes, rookies can be great at their first few deals as a Realtor, or they can learn at your expense. Helping your Realtor understand the entire process might make you feel better and you quite likely will not end up in a lawsuit or in a pickle that you cannot escape from. But should you take that chance?

How about the role of ethical behavior in your dealings with that salesperson you hired? Does it even matter? Well, it might not matter in many deals. It’s possible there will not be an instance when your Realtor had a choice to make and sadly chose the unethical path. But what if they did make the wrong choice (I am equating unethical with wrong, by the way) and it affected you in a problematic way, or even cost you money? If you cannot think of an example of how this might affect you, the customer, in a negative way, ask your Realtor if they can describe an example. If they cannot, then you also might have reason for concern.

Every four years the national Realtor organization (NAR) requires all Realtors to have taken a two-hour course on Ethics. The four-year deadline is this year. Almost all of them have taken the course by now or are scheduled in the next week or two. If you fail to take the course, your Realtor status is suspended. If your favorite Realtor is suspended, what does that tell you? That they are a procrastinator or are not paying attention to requirements? What would that say about their ability to help you execute the terms of a purchase agreement with deadlines and contingencies on many items?

Simply failing to take an Ethics course does not make one unethical, of course! Some have taken the course and remained a bad actor in our industry, doing unethical things time after time; saying the wrong thing, failing to disclose material facts, forgetting to tell you about the new sewage treatment plant going in across the street from your retirement home. Lack of disclosure is one of the most frequent mistakes a Realtor can make. If you are a home buyer, rely on that person, but please take responsibility and do as much research as you feel is necessary to allow you to feel comfortable with the property you are buying.

Tweedle Dumber is licensed and practicing real estate sales every day. And I am calling them Dumber because they do not have the brains to figure out how to do business ethically and professionally. They may think that classes they are required to take are a waste of their time. They may think they already know everything. Hey, if I have been in and around real estate for nearly 35 years by now and am still learning every day, it might be because there is more to learn and the rules are always changing and market trends dictate learning new things every year. Find out if your chosen professional is in the good column or in the “bad” column. Then you can sleep at night.

“You learn something every day if you pay attention”  Ray LeBlond

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”   Albert Einstein

PS-  Newly updated real estate market stats will be published here by the 10th of this and every month.

No such thing as termites?

In the high desert, such as in Santa Fe, NM, one can be excused for thinking that termites might not thrive, but we can be blessed with them without knowing they have invaded our homes. Yes they exist here and yes they can do serious damage to a home. The general rule is no wood building product should be in contact with the ground in a home. This is easy to say but sometimes difficult to accomplish.

The soil level may change on the exterior of a home and cracked stucco or the foundation may allow a family of termites to find access to the wood studs inside your walls, along with any other material they may like to devour. I am certain that someone told me 33 years ago when I moved here that we don’t have termites. Wrong answer.

Instead of perpetuating the myth that they do not exist here, why not find out? If you are real estate professional and are working with a seller or a buyer, a termite (or “pest”) inspection should be a normal part of your conversation with your customer, just the same as if there is a water well and the buyer wants it tested and inspected. Last I heard, a termite inspection was pretty affordable compared to the cost of remediation. Somewhere between $75 and $150 maybe? Now, the treatment can cost more, of course. If the professional pest person finds evidence of termites, treating and exterminating them must be done right away. It is no different that repairing a leaky roof. The longer the invasion continues, the more damage might be done, and the cost of repairs will only go up.

Stacks of firewood leaning against a home are a good example of something to avoid, the wood in contact with the ground below is enough to foster a termite colony. And leaning against the home? That seems like a gold-plated invitation to invade the home for the little critters. Why make it easy? Move the wood.

If you leave a piece of lumber laying in the dirt near your home, you will find that it might be riddled with termite damage in a matter of a few weeks, or possibly a month or two. Your home sits there all day every day and looks delicious for those bugs. Don’t let them in. They don’t know when to stop and will just breed and damage more of your home if you let them.

As a homeowner planning to sell, get a pre-listing professional inspection of your property and fix what needs fixing. Then make that report available to buyer prospects and show them the receipts for the repairs you had done. This removes some of the major hurdles to buyers following through with their intent to purchase your home. And get a pest inspection too. Having it to show a buyer may give everyone confidence that all investigation and testing is being done such that the buyer gets the home they want, not the home they are sorry to have purchased.

Get what you pay for, or not…

When you hire a real estate professional to assist you in a real estate transaction, they can be a world of help, or they might just get in the way. They can seemingly work wonders or they could mess up the transaction without even knowing why or how. Each person has a different demeanor and background. What you get for your money should be worth what you pay (or more) and I offer a couple of suggestions to make sure you are working with someone who will help you get what you want. And what you need.

Have they been in business for a period of time? How long? How many sales have they been involved in? And have they done a transaction similar to what you want to do? If they are relatively new to real estate sales, do they have a history of business dealings and are they knowledgeable about contracts and solving problems? Sometimes the new brokers are better for a customer because they are eager to learn and have the time to devote to your deal. Are they able to provide you a timeline of the events that will occur during the escrow period? Do you perceive that they are honest and will tell you the truth no matter how painful it may be? Do they know the answers to the questions you ask them, or are they ducking the questions because they don’t know, or don’t even know to say that they will find out and get back to you? And how reliable is that promise?

If you are thinking of buying a foreclosure or a short sale, have they ever done one of those, or how many have they done? Do they know the unusual and lengthy process that these distressed properties require to get to a successful closing?  Did you ask them for market comparables so you can properly determine the value of a distressed property you want to buy? Did they show them to you?

I have heard buyers tell me they are not paying the Realtors commission. Not so fast, my friend. Is it not the buyers funds that go thru the title company that result in the seller getting their proceeds and the Realtors getting paid? The Realtors are paid by the buyers funds, though somewhat indirectly. If you are a buyer and interviewing a broker, do you expect them to work for free? I hope not!!  There are many great causes people can volunteer for, but helping someone buy or sell real property is not usually one of those things.

How much time do you spend understanding the details and fine print of all the documents? Would you agree that a 2 minute discussion now is better than a 2 hour argument in a month?  Did you read the documents that are involved in your listing a home or attempting to buy a home? Why not?  Why would you not read a legal document that you are about to sign? What is your defense when later you realize you did not understand that certain paragraph or deadline? Did you ask questions? Please read before signing. Stop and ask questions if you have any doubt about what a document says. And pay close attention to what the real estate professional says in response to your question. Ask follow up questions.

If you are able to buy a home, make time to pay attention to everything that is part of that action. If you get a home inspection, and I say you definitely should, be present during the inspection and ask questions of the inspector to get the background that is more valuable than the written report. Why is that floor not level, or why is there staining on the vigas below the skylight? (just two examples). When you decide to buy a home, set aside the time to do it right. I am always amazed when I hear of a buyer making an offer on a home and then going overseas for 4 weeks on a pilgrimage to see the Tibetan Monks without cell service. Maybe wait on that home purchase until you can be present and accounted for during escrow. That is the time you have to learn everything you want to know about the home you are buying. There are no money back guarantees when you buy a home that is a resale. The builders warranty no longer applies. What if something fails in the first week, or month, or year of your ownership? Who gets blamed for that? What did the property disclosure say and what did the inspection say? You didn’t get one? Did you ask questions? And how about that Home Warranty? Did your broker explain the relative cost and value of having one? Did you ask?

How much earnest money should I offer? Buyers like to put down a small amount. Sellers like to see more. There is no rule, so to speak. If you want to negotiate that, then you should. Often it is the last line of defense against a party that defaults on the contract. As a seller, don’t kick yourself later on for having agreed to  $2000 earnest money on a $450K sales price with a 6 plus week escrow. If you think it should be higher, ask for it. If the buyer is serious and wants the home, they are putting up much more than that small amount eventually. And if they decide to terminate per the contract terms, they can do so. Read the contract. Everyone is supposed to be dealing in good faith. That is not just a way of saying we should all be nice.

How far above and beyond the license law duties do you expect your salesperson to go? We generally think of someone that goes above and beyond to be providing exemplary service. But sometimes too far is TOO FAR. Your Realtor should not be expected to mow your lawn, or paint your family room walls, or steam clean the carpeting. They are not the person to ask if you have the right to open up a goat milk farm on the property you want to buy. But they can hopefully point you in the right direction. I often will agree to, or offer to do a few extra things, but I cannot certify that the roof of the home is in good shape. I cannot state with certainty what will happen in the vacant land across the street. Yes it could become a bunch of warehouses with auto body shops or a refuse transfer station. Ask questions.

Heaven forbid a salesperson has had a complaint filed against them or someone sues them for some real estate related reason. Is it OK to ask the Realtor you are thinking of hiring to tell you about all complaints and/or lawsuits they have been involved in? If I am your Realtor, you have the right to know and I will tell you.

Are commissions and fees negotiable? Some are and some are not. Some Realtors and salespeople will negotiate and some will not. All I want to add about that is the professional that says they will do it for less may not provide the same service and guide you through the process quite as effectively as the more expensive one would. I am not a discount broker. They are out there. If you think you only want to pay $2000 and everyone is quoting more, best to confirm what the lower fee will get you, and confirm what is not included. As with so many of these things, you usually get what you pay for. Is the best Realtor the most expensive one? No, the best one is the one you trust and that gets the job done on time.

The cost of disruption

The tech world and its pundits talk about which industry will be disrupted next. Travel agencies are a mere shadow of their former stature. Many industries (banks for example) have consolidated wealth and market share and are doing well with far fewer employees. The taxi cab industry is a recent example of disruption, as is the lodging industry. Real estate has some proximity to lodging in that residential (and commercial) properties may be purchased with the goal of short term rentals in mind. You know the names: VRBO, Airbnb, etc. Not everyone lives the glorious life of an owner-occupant that never has house guests. Some open up one bedroom and one bath to paying visitors, sharing the kitchen, while others take a vacation from home and lease their castle for 10 days, making enough money to pay 3 months of mortgage payments. This cost of disruption is still being calculated, as opponents to short term rentals in residential areas fear the end of their peaceful and safe living environment. Those in favor see a better experience in the area they are visiting and are glad to pay rent to a homeowner instead of a international (or local) lodging company.

Certainly some people who lease for a short time are potentially bothersome to the nearby homes and residents. The popular “bad” image is a group of frat boys partying all night with loud music and shouting, leaving beer cans strewn about the yard, Yes, that can happen, but likely most people are families or couples vacationing in an area they want to visit. They will dine out and visit shops, galleries, cultural sites and museums, imbibe at the local pubs, hike the Dale Ball trails and hopefully take home some merchandise. Maybe more importantly they will want to return again in the near future.

Is the real estate sales industry ripe for disruption? Well, let’s think about that. Can you buy a home online? Yes. Can you buy a home without seeing it in person? Yes. Should you do that? There are some concerns about doing things that way, but if you want to, go ahead. What do real estate professionals actually do besides unlock a door to a home? If you have to ask, and truly do not know the answers to that question, we need to talk. Realtors, the majority of salespeople are members of Realtor organizations, have state license law to up hold and follow, along with a time-tested Realtor Code of Ethics. Backing up the code is a Standards of Practice document that compiles best practices for Realtors. Those serve as rules we live and work under. A quick example: we shall not falsely represent a property when marketing it. Another: we must disclose any potential conflict of interest or if we are going to be receiving compensation from more than one party.

So yes, we have lockbox keys. And we have access to a database of all properties listed for sale in our MLS. Our source is more precise and current than the compiling sites such as Zillow. We have access to attorney-prepared forms for use in a transaction and we have resources galore of third party vendors that can help a buyer learn about the home they are about to buy, or get a mortgage loan approved to allow the purchase. We have errors and omissions insurance in case we make a mistake. Sadly, many attorneys use that coverage to sue us for money when they are solicited to help an aggrieved buyer or seller. It doesn’t even matter if we did something wrong or not. We still get named in a lawsuit.

What else? How about our role as dog-sitter? Marriage counselor? Palm reader and mind reader? Tour guide? Source of info about anything they want to know about…homeowners associations, restaurants, schools, churches, zoning laws, roofers and radon testers, property managers, surveyors, materials for remodeling and consignment stores. Tax-deferred exchanges, water well permits and flow tests, paint stores and flooring specialists, septic pumping vendors and medical professionals, too.

Many Realtors will tell you they become friends with their customers and those are the people they end up having dinner with and sharing stories with. We are citizens and residents of this area, we pay taxes, raise children, order pizza and go to gallery openings. You will see us volunteering at the Folk Art Market, riding our mountain bikes on Cerro Gordo, taking a class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking and helping a visitor find the Plaza. We can be thought of as greedy parasites to real estate deals, but many deals would not happen but for the involvement of a professional real estate salesperson. The level of talent and knowledge required to be a successful Realtor is staggering. All this and we are considered a lowly profession, maybe just above used car salesmen and divorce attorneys. Not that there is anything wrong with selling used cars.

We have been waiting for the computer to replace us. I am 65 and I can work as long as I like. There will always be a place for me at the table, in my lifetime anyway. Hopefully some younger professionals will get into the business so that I and others can share our decades of experience and lessons with them. As if they want to listen anyway, the whippersnappers!!

Enjoy the market today because it is changing. The Santa Fe NM residential real estate market is not at the front of the pack, but we are moving into a healthier market and it is an interesting time to buy or sell depending upon your personal needs. We will help you and assist you. We will listen when you rant and rave and we will smile back at you when you get a rush of excitement about the successful closing you are about to have. We will continue to wait to the very end and then another day or two before we get paid. If you use us and don’t pay us, we will remember, but will likely do it again tomorrow for the promise of helping someone, even you, and getting a check for the trouble and effort. And maybe a new friend.

Always ask a few more questions than you think are necessary. Insist that your Realtor is an expert and don’t be afraid to move on if you are not happy with the first one you meet. It takes guts and brains and thick skin and a sense of humor to be a Realtor. If you want a robot, I know someone for you, but it is not me.

The St. Patrick’s day shuffle

This time of the calendar year we see the start of heavy numbers of newly listed property show up. A typical day now sees 30 plus new listings and maybe 8 sold properties. At that rate the inventory climbs rapidly and the balanced market we enjoyed during the winter shifts to become a buyers market again.

The exception to that rule is in the lower price ranges. There we see absorption rates less than five months and a real shortage of quality inventory for buyers to choose from. If you are a buyer and looking under $400K, you might need to fight for your right to purchase. But do it carefully please. I would never recommend buying without getting a home inspection and the other due diligence a buyer should do is way too important to skip. There will always be that one time you see a buyer concerned about the large vacant tract across the fence and then does not investigate; later a strip mall is being built and the new homeowner is worried sick. Ask questions until you run out of things to ask about. Get answers.

The mid-range market is interesting as it’s the only segment that saw an increase in inventory and a decrease in sales units over the last 12 months. Not big sweeping changes, mind you, but a slide in what some could call the wrong direction. And speaking, as we often do here, of quality inventory and homes for sale, that mid-range has everything from a 3000 square foot one bedroom shack on a mountain to a home, guest home, casita and studio compound with privacy and top end finishes. Looking in that range is a huge challenge just to sort out the Bushmills Black Bush from the Jameson 18.

And, drum roll please; for the first time in almost ever, we have hit the mark of 120 homes sold in a 12 month period that are above $1,000,000. in sold price. Yes we know some had an asking price of $1,069,00 but if it sold below the million mark, it is not counted here. 120 – say it loud and say it proud.

When you think of Santa Fe, do you think it is a hotbed of economic growth and opportunity? Or does it feel more like a sleepy and historic village with sights and sounds befitting a retiree comfortable in jeans and ready to nap whenever the urge strikes? We lag on many fronts and in terms of job creation, we cannot even get on the list. Tourism rules, and that is not bad except the jobs are in that range of hotly discussed minimum wages. You can earn more living in Santa Fe but can you own a home? Can you have any time to enjoy the surroundings and the culture if you are working a couple of jobs and feeding a couple of people?

I have been a have and I also have been a have not. Note; I did not say has been. I said have been. Insert emoticon here. Of course I prefer to be a have instead of a have not. Who wouldn’t? What are the opportunities for someone to move up to a higher income bracket and build a net worth that will provide for their children and their grandbabies? How about real estate? Did you know you can actually buy an investment property here and have a positive cash flow? The paper value of a property does not have to equal the amount it might sell for in a few months. So real estate is not liquid. It does not fit the need for those who say Cash is King. Cash has almost always been King, but leverage is also a meaningful option at times. Debt has been the ticket to fortune for many. I cannot recommend debt in simple terms – it is too debilitating and keeps you awake at night. But sometimes its the best way to get from A to B.

Stay tuned for regular updates about the residential real estate market in the Santa Fe area. We have room to grow if we have the water. We have room for improvement if we have the product for sale. And contact me if I can help you with your real estate needs in any way.  Thank you.

Responding to cries for attention

Few children fail to master the skill of gaining attention from their parents and caregivers. Some have multiple ways to get attention, with noise or actions or facial expressions. And we all probably know plenty of adults that still use their bag of tricks to get attention for whatever selfish reason they possess. Sometimes making a small mistake is a way to generate attention; the person that notices your mistake might say something to you when otherwise they might not know you exist. Thats a bit like self-deprecating humor in that you expose your faults or weaknesses so others can gawk and stare. And laugh. My belief is that people recognize faults in others quickly that they have themselves. Other faults may take time to recognize if they do not have first hand experience. I can see faults in a home for sale if I know what I am looking at. The novice may not notice water stains on wood beams, for example.

Advertising is an obvious example of a cry for attention. Some people are offended by a sales pitch while a salesperson recognizes that sales pitch as a highly refined skill. Do you respond to advertising? Do you buy a product or select a service provider because you see their name in print all the time, or hear their jingle on radio or TV? Why does Crest cost more than Colgate? Is it because Crest spends millions in advertising and to recoup that cost they charge more per tube of toothpaste? I suspect so.

What about the Realtor that promotes themselves (their expertise or good looks) and their listings of property for sale. Certainly they are hoping someone will pay attention. Preferably someone will see the promotional material and want more information, possibly leading to action. Advertising and promotional efforts take lots of forms these days. There is still the often effective for sale sign in the yard. And print advertising is not dead yet, though it has fallen way behind electronic marketing in both spending and results. Many pundits have an opinion, but most believe that some 80 to 90% of home buyers first look online before looking in person using the assistance of a licensed salesperson. Some already know the professional they plan to work with, but have already started going through the most interesting inventory of homes. When they are ready to look, they have already shortened their list.

An interesting phenomena is the out-of-town buyer that shops at length online, comes to Santa Fe to look in person and decides to buy their first choice of homes from their time online no matter what else they see in person. They had made up their minds yet wanted confirmation.

A property is not the same in person as it is online. It can never exactly match due to limitations of images, the different light and the lack of touch or smell when you are sitting at a keyboard. Some say the energy is palatable in person while not discoverable online. It is instrumental to look first before you spend all day getting in and out of a car and walking through numerous homes that all start to look alike. Sometimes the second visit to a home is surprising in that it’s not what you remember seeing the first time.

So how does one differentiate the cries for attention from the facts when choosing between Realtors or choosing a home to buy? And are there any facts contained in that act of crying out for attention? Sometimes there are, sometimes not so much. Possibly the most important attribute of an excellent Realtor is knowledge about the market and the process of buying and selling. Newly licensed people can do just fine for their customers; I used to hire and train new Realtors for a living and many went on to become top producers. They may very well have been successful without my help, but the point is everyone has to have knowledge and be able to use it in their career. If you need lots of help, choose someone with patience and knowledge. Maybe life experience is worth more than real estate intelligence on occasion. Both is often the best.

Those print and online property ads are all begging for attention. Don’t you find you have to read the text carefully to determine what is really being said? Code words are used frequently and certain positive aspects are touted even if they seem like minor players. If a property is walking distance to the Plaza, does that tell you that people who are unable to walk are being discriminated against by that claim? Does that tell you its close to music on the bandstand, holiday lights and the fiesta celebrants? Are some statements subject to interpretation or should you take everything at face value? If a home has a unique design, is that good or bad? Maybe a buyer wants traditional and conventional design, not unique. Architecturally stunning is a nice phrase. Is that something you must have in your next home? Are you paying extra for the design that does not add to function?

Take me! Take me! like the kid at the playground not wanting to be left off of either team as the captains choose sides. That’s what our listings are saying, they are crying for attention. They are not wall flowers or shy types standing there in the shadows. If a home is for sale, you everyone should know about it.

Hear Ye Hear Ye !! This home is for sale. Inquire at www.123mainSTREETdotCOM. And while you are on my site, register for a free trip to another part of the world. Drawings hourly!

I try not to respond quickly to advertising. If I am going to spend money, I want to research a little bit first, time permitting. Maybe the heavily advertised product is the one I end up getting, but not because George Clooney told me it was a good thing to have. A yogurt is a yogurt while a teepee is not a yurt. Look it up!

Good luck with your fact checking and your decision-making. Call me for quality assistance.

What is important to you?

If it is important to you, do you nurture and protect it? Do you feed it and help it grow? Do you lock it up at night and create layers of security so it will not be taken away from you? If it is important to you, could you exist without it? We all have things that are very important to us. And my point is that someone who does not recognize and understand what is important to you maybe should not be your associate or friend.

We know you cannot pick your family, but we also are comfortable in the feeling that we can pick our friends. Business relationships and associations might be a little different. Sometimes we are required to do business with someone or a company that is disrespectful of us and our needs and values. Maybe they have the only game in town, so shopping at JimmyBob’s for blood sausage, if that’s what you must have and they are the only purveyors, might mean you are stuck shopping there, no matter how they treat you.

Working with a Realtor is not limited by supply. After all there are some 700 members of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors. The general belief is that maybe 250-300 of them are actively engaged in listing and selling and actually have commission income on occasion. I have not really studied the current figures, but historically many dues paying Realtors did not list or sell property. When I was Managing Broker of Sothebys International Realty in Santa Fe (which took over French & French Fine Properties), I did not have commission income as I was managing sales people not selling directly.

But lets assume that there are many actively engaged Realtors to choose from: say 250 as a good guess. If you need the services of a good or great Realtor, how do you determine whom to work with. Studies show that many real estate customers will work with the Realtor that they worked with before, providing they know how to find them and that Realtor did a reasonably good job the last time. Then there are a myriad of ways Realtors promote themselves; sometimes by running large and colorful advertisements for listings (which also say “work with me, I know what I am doing!”). Some Realtors actually run print ads for their services, promoting their specific skills and talents, usually with a photo. Many others have websites and are trolling the internet for leads and customers, proving their value by a lightning fast response to an email inquiry or maybe publishing extensive and historical statistics (like I do in this blog) proving whatever that proves.

But what is important to a customer is not always what the Realtor recognizes as important. Would it be helpful to ask “what is important to you?” if you are promoting yourself to a customer or group?  I can go on all day about what is important to me, and I am stubborn enough to say with confidence that I am not likely to get involved in an activity that is not important to me in some respect. Rather than my telling all of my prospective customers what is important to me, probably better that I ask what is important to them.

Whether it’s the golden rule or the seven deadly sins (or is it eight?), most of us know the list of positive attributes and character traits. Honesty is usually at or near the top. Ethical is a particular key word in the real estate industry since many seem to think many of us are not ethical. Hard working is a popular handle to have. Smart can really come in handy as can being a great negotiator. Someone once said that they are a lousy navigator but an excellent negotiator.

Being well-connected and computer savvy can be a real plus. Realtors spend so much time on their keyboards these days that if your Realtor cannot email photos or set up electronic signatures for you quickly and easily, that is very unfortunate. How many websites would your listing appear on if you list with me? Would you be willing to bet it is over 300 sites? How about over 400?

Get your money’s worth from your Realtor. It will be a long time until you buy or sell again and the cost of selling or buying means you should expect quality service from start to end. Tell your Realtor what is important to you and then see if they can deliver.

Who should you trust?

Someone once said “trust your gut” and others have said “follow the money” while an obvious good rule of thumb is to pay the most attention to facts when considering something. Is it possible to do all of these, and more, when you are about to make a decision? If you are selecting a professional to represent your best interests, how many questions do you ask them as you come to a decision about their involvement? Have they sold the most homes? Have they been in business for many years? Do they reside in the same area as you?

Not everyone would come to the same conclusion when interviewing a sales professional. Some sellers, or buyers, would prefer to work with someone who is newer in the business and has the time and energy to help they get what they want out of a real estate transaction. Others might anticipate difficult negotiations and lots of complications and prefer to work with someone who has been a professional for many years (and knows what constitutes a red flag).

Should the title of this post be “whom would you trust”? If your needs are different from mine, our respective choices may be different and both may be exactly correct. So yes, trust your gut, pick someone who has knowledge and experience, select a person or team with ethics and a drive to help you accomplish your goals. Follow the money in that you can ask for past results, although we know well past results are no guaranty of future performance!

Keep asking questions, even after the process has begun. If you become disappointed down the road, consider starting over again, or at least reconfirming your needs and how the professional will address them to your satisfaction.

Trust is very important. An early impression I learned, from advertising, was to “trust the man with the star”. Was that a Texaco service station employee or a member of a police force? If I wear a star, would you trust me?