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Timelines Matter…and other Lessons from #RealtorLife

The stories are real.  The names, addresses and prices have been hidden to protect the identities of the people involved. 

As a Real Estate Agent, we meet clients in a variety of ways.  In my personal experience, I meet clients in THREE ways:

  1. Open Houses
  2. Personal/Business referrals
  3. Sign/Advertisement Calls

There I was, in the late Spring, doing an Open House for a condo I had listed (which had been referred to me via a colleague).  It was a vacant unit, and a BUSY Open House.  Because it was vacant, I had to run back and forth to let people in and, yes, this ROCKED my fitbit steps that day LOL.

One couple came in, and seemed nice.  We had some great talks, but they told me they were looking and likely had an agent already.  That was that.

Fast forward a few weeks later.  I get a phone message while I am doing a walk through with some clients.

Hi Krystal, we met at your Open House a few weeks ago and we would like you to help us sell our house.”

Pardon me?  Yes please 🙂

So I call back.

It turns out that I made a great impression at the Open House, which is key, because even after people tell me they have an agent, I am my helpful self.  Please let me me clear:  I am very respectful of that relationship.  I have heard the client view, and my own, of agents who try to steal clients and I am a solid NO on this if an actual relationship exists.  That said, here I am at an Open House representing my clients’ property, my Brokerage and myself.  I will ALWAYS be helpful.

My clients had had their home listed before and they had, to paraphrase, a less than stellar experience.  The house did not sell and was tied up with an offer that didn’t come together and an agent who didn’t show them they were important.

I went in and met with them and we hit it off even more.  Now to get to work.  Me and my Team of professionals, along with my awesome clients got the house ready annnnd we hit the market.  We did VERY well and our Open Houses were busy.

We got an Offer and it was fairly decent – they had a home inspection condition but it was a short one.  Now, the buyers had also been to the property and told me that they felt there was too much work to do and that they didn’t agree with the price.  My guess was that this was part of their negotiation strategy.  I likely should have seen this a slight red flag.

The Conditional period was set to end at 7pm on a Sunday and we had put everything in an amendment (the form to change an existing offer) to be signed and returned to us by that time.  We agreed to move this to 9pm if necessary.

In the background, I had received additional offers.  Not one, not two but THREE offers.  And we weren’t able to do ANYTHING about them unless and until this deal died.

At 7:30pm, the other agent began trying to lower the price on the Offer by text.  At 9:01pm, I sent the other agent a message advising her again that we were not okay with any price amendment and that we assumed they weren’t going forward.  I waited another 10 minutes for a reply, to be fair.  Nothing came.

So, I called my clients and talked with them about the situation.  They chose to work with the 3 offers and choose one of those and to walk away from the dead deal.  When I spoke to the agent, she was incredibly upset with me and told me that her papers had been signed since 7pm.  But she had not communicated this to me in writing (or verbally – though it always needs to be in writing) and was still trying to negotiate price at 7:30pm.

Sitting down and going over the Offers, all three of them were SIGNIFICANTLY higher than the Offer that had just given us such grief.  And the difference at the end of the day was an additional $30,000 for my clients (which was $25,000 over their list price).  We left the Office that night with a FIRM deal and my clients were VERY happy…though it had been incredibly difficult for them to choose between three groups that were seemingly in love with the home they had loved so much.

My clients were incredibly happy with my service, and with the results of getting their home SOLD successfully and getting even more in their pocket than they had originally thought they would get.  They also bought their next home with me and we have become friends…which is definitely the norm for me.  It’s a very humbling thing to have the friendship and support of so many amazing people who started out as my clients 🙂

LESSONS I LEARNED 

  • When at an Open House, talk with everyone and offer as much help and guidance as you can.  If they have an agent already and you know them, always show that you respect their agent.  And when you find out they have an agent, remember that you are STILL representing your sellers, your Brokerage AND yourself 🙂  Continue to be awesome!
  • Make sure to have an efficient system to document contact information and feedback for the Sellers at an Open House as well (and to give them YOUR information in return)
  • If buyers seem difficult the first time you meet them, they are likely difficult.  Does this mean you can’t do a deal with them?  Absolutely not.  But it DOES mean that all risk levels may increase.
  • When working with Offers, timelines ARE STILL IMPORTANT.  Whether it’s the irrevocable time, the time for Conditions or the timeline to bring in your deposit cheque:  You miss the deadline and you risk missing the deal.
  • Always stay in communication with your clients.  They will feel more comfortable and (slightly) less stressed if they understand (a) what is going on and (b) what you are doing to represent and support them
  • Remember that clients get used to spending time with you every day when their homes are listed and when they are buying – so you develop a relationship with them.  Keeping in touch after the house closes is a great idea because you end up with amazing friends who ALSO know how professional you are 🙂

Going for the WIN WIN like a CHAMP! #RealtorLife #Always

The stories are real.  The identities of my clients and properties have been changed to protect their privacy.

 

So there I was.  I had listed another home in the South end of Guelph.  This one happened in the Summer of 2016.  My clients were fabulous and eccentric (I may be developing a ‘type’ lol).

We had organized everything from staging to moving furniture out, handywork, landscaping , painting, cleaning and photography.  I even had one of my network contacts re-stretch the carpets.  The house looked fantastic!  It needed some updating but what a layout 🙂  Also, the income potential with the legal apartment in the basement was a huge plus.

My clients were animal lovers with huge hearts.  And we started the process.

Offer day came and we had 4 offers to choose from.  We chose the best offer and I was pleasantly surprised that it was from a local agent…with LOCAL clients!  Hallelujah!

There were seemingly not ‘issues’ at first, and the buyers were clear that they would be moving in and not renting out the home or the basement.  They scared my clients when they decided to perform their own outdoor walk through the property one afternoon.  And when my client asked who they were?  A gruff response was given.

My clients wanted to be kind and leave some items for the buyers.  A bird feeder, some shelving, a freezer in the garage and a few other items that they may have needed.  We discovered that the buyers were NOT okay with this.  SO not okay that they drove by the house at 1pm on closing day and saw that the freezer was in the garage (it was being picked up that afternoon) and REFUSED to close on the basis that the sellers were in breach of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

The three of us, my clients and I, filled my car with the items, including the bird feeder and shelves as fast as we could.  My clients were livid…but also confused as to how regular people could be so adversarial.  The stress was at a maximum level and I could see there was no way to ‘fix it’.  So I offered them the advice I take, and give, when situations arise whereby other people are less than stellar.

Their behaviour is not okay.  But, the up side is that at least at the end of the day, you get to be you.  And they have to continue on being THEM.”

We all agreed that this was punishment enough LOL.

Weeks after the closing day, I got an email from my clients.  They apologized to me (lol unnecessary but appreciated) for being so stressed out and short tempered with me and thanked me for my kindness, my professionalism AND my helpful advice that day.  It truly helped them and they wanted to share.  Talk about a heart smile!

Difficult people will be difficult no matter what.  These same people had the home rented out almost right away and when my client had accidentally shipped something to her old address, it was a huge hassle to get it from them unfortunately.

Do unto others is what I try to emphasize with my clients.  Do you HAVE to do extra things for the buyers? NO.  Would you appreciate it in reverse??  Absolutely.

In my experience, happy buyers and happy sellers result in smooth transactions and happy endings to everyone’s real estate story 🙂

LESSONS I LEARNED 

  • Negotiate right away what the sellers will be and will not be leaving.  If the buyers really don’t want something, it can be difficult to have it removed at the last minute
  • Try to communicate with the other agent as much as possible to establish the concept that you are on the same team.  And that is Team Harmonious Clients!  We are the professionals.  There is no reason to be adversaries.  
  • If you end up in a situation where the other agent and/or the other clients are being difficult, remember that part of your JOB is to be the calm in the storm for your clients.  To help them see clearly and, in some cases, to see where the other people are coming from.  In the MOMENT, they may feel like you aren’t on their ‘side’ but they will thank you later on for helping them keep their eyes on the prize 🙂
  • Be available on closing day.  If something goes wrong, you can be there to help with your words, your hands or your database of professionals.
  • Always keep in touch with your clients, before during and after their transactions.  It’s “not the same” as the multiple daily contact during the sale, but they will appreciate it (and, if you’re anything like me, they will become your friends afterwards too lol).
  • Remember: The best result is a WIN WIN – where nobody feels cheated and everyone is smiling!

#RealtorLife…These things ACTUALLY happen

The stories are real.  The names, addresses and prices have been hidden to protect the identities of the people involved. 

I remember it like it was yesterday.  My SECOND listing.  How did I get it, you ask?  My sorority sister from Ottawa (you read that right lol) told me about her father, who was ALSO a real estate agent in a neighbouring city.

“I may have some buyers for the area, Krystal.  Canvas the neighbourhoods and see if you can get a listing for my clients to buy.  It would be a Win/Win.

Boy was he right!

I called around and ended up sitting down with a lovely but quiet couple.  We discussed their home’s potential value and I came armed with my bound ‘listing booklet’ and toured their super cute home.

As it turned out, the buyers I was searching for bought something else.  But we still went ahead and listed the South End home.

What I DID was invite my photographer, Hans, to come and take our professional photos. What I did NOT do was ‘spend’ money I didn’t have on a ‘needless luxury’ like…staging.

My clients and I ‘staged’ the home ourselves.  What?  Like it’s hard?? (okay.  It was hard. I need Ellen, my stager.  Like flowers need sun.)

Sooo we list the house.  And the price was good.  The house itself had a couple issues.  But nothing major.  South end, great home, almost 2000 square feet.  But it was for sale for much longer than we had anticipated.  And my clients were private people.

Then, at last, a man and his wife came into my open house.  They seemed VERY interested.  And they didn’t have their own agent.  There was a catch though.  This buyer wanted to represent himself.  For 2.5% of the purchase price.  Oh.  AND he wanted to come in under the list price.  AND he and his wife wanted my clients’ oak furniture.  And they had an inspection and financing clause.  I wish I was kidding.  But it gets worse.

I go against the advice of a few of my colleagues because I figure, hey.  At least the home will get sold and my clients can stop being stressed.  I can do the extra work.  No problem.

We have the inspection.  The report reveals that (a) the roof needs to be replaced (it was approximately 13 years old), (b) there is a vent that should have gone from the Ensuite bathroom to the roof but was just venting into the attic and creating suspect fungal material , (c) the seal on the front bedroom window was gone AND finally, the beautiful tree in the backyard, which my clients specifically requested that the builder NOT remove when they had the home built in 2001, was a potential hazard to the roof if not trimmed back.

The buyers were getting the deal of a lifetime on this house.  So obviously they firmed up.  Right?!

WRONG!

This buyer sat in front of me and DEMANDED that my clients have the tree professionally removed and that the put a new roof on the house in addition to already having the builder issue in the attic rectified.

Might I mention that the buyer was so rude and loud, people in my office could hear him practically yelling about his “rights” to a new roof and a tree-free yard.

Needless to say, we decided to say NO to the unreasonable not agent who was saving tens of thousands of dollars.

The listing expired 😦

I stayed in touch.

My clients got a new roof.  Changed the front window.  Fixed the vent.

AND RELISTED THE HOME THE NEXT YEAR.  WITH ME!

“We know how hard you worked and we would like to give you another chance.”

We listed their home for $20,000 more than we had originally listed for the previous year.  And when the nicest couple came into my open house (again without an agent), I was my friendly self…but had to wonder.

They offered FULL list price.  With 1 condition.  I was to sell their townhome.

#DONE

I ended up with 3 ends and 4 VERY happy people (5 if you include me).

LESSONS I LEARNED

  • If a buyer walks in and wants to represent himself, that’s okay.  We even have a form for that (Customer Service).  If he thinks that representation includes ANY sort of remuneration or that he is entitled to a piece of the Seller’s commission??  WRONG.  We work very hard and train and study and pay a lot of money to BE professional agents.  That is not a negotiation point.
  • Always be honest with your clients.  If you may have buyers, tell them this.  If those buyers buy elsewhere, keep them updated.
  • Cold calling and/or door knocking is not fun.  But when you have a reason…it’s a little bit better 🙂
  • ALWAYS hire professionals, whether for photography OR STAGING 
  • Learn about what your clients need.  After weeks on the market, we took the For Sale sign down.  My Broker of Record suggested that there was a source of pain associated with the sign every day.  And taking it down showed I was in it for THEM and not for ME.
  • Fight for your clients always.  Especially against people who are trying to take advantage of them.
  • Hire the right inspector.  We had the right guy, and unfortunately, these buyers took his ‘warnings’ as cash opportunities.
  • Understand that some builders may leave things undone, such as an entire row of homes with detached bathroom vents.  A pre-home inspection can be a good idea – or even a post-move in inspection.  13 years of moisture blowing into the attic can’t be a GOOD thing.
  • Keep in touch and always listen.  My clients had an entire YEAR to decide to work with someone else after that trauma with the buyers.  I showed I cared and that I worked hard and it mattered to them.

#RealtorLife… Always verify.

The stories are real.  The identities of my clients and properties have been changed to protect their privacy.

There are days when my chosen career seems almost…dare I say it??  Easy.  But then. Then there are days like I had when I first became a full time Realtor(R) in Guelph, Ontario.

My client, C, was my VERY first seller client.  He was everything I could have hoped for.  He was direct, he was just a little bit suspicious of me as a Realtor(R) AND he just KNEW his house was ‘the’ house.  The cream of the crop.  The nicest house on the block.

Please don’t let any of these stories fool you.  Many of us, myself included, truly believe that we DO in fact have a nicer home than the neighbour who just sold.  And we are happy to believe it.  Especially when it’s true.

C advised me that his home was going to sell for almost $80,000 more than I thought it would sell for.  “List it and they will come.”

I was new, I was hungry and this was a referral from an out of town agent.  I was ready to move mountains to get this little bungalow SOLD baby!  So we went with C’s list price and I would “see”.

I hired a professional photographer, Hans for the first time.  I had met Hans at an open house, and I was going to do everything right.  I still remember, though, writing Hans that cheque for $153.00 and wondering how I was going to make sure I had that money in my account for him.  This was 6 months into my 8 month start as a Realtor(R) in Guelph and my break into the market was going verrrrry slowly. Hans is my photographer for every home I list now.  He’s part of the team 🙂

The photography session was fun, and we only had to retake ONE photo because I was in it by accident.  As a seasoned agent, I have become a veritable expert at ‘Hide from Hans’ during listing photos.  I must deserve an award by now 🙂

The photos were taken, the listing went live and I was in business.

Or so I thought.

I tried everything.  I baked apple pie at the open houses (one day we had a blizzard and the next it was hot and sunny), I offered Free Pizza in advertisements to buyers and I kept my seller updated…even when it was HARD to be the messenger of the unfavourable news.

It would take me 99 days on market and 4 price decreases to sell this home for almost $80,000 LESS than we had listed it for.  This home that was lovingly ‘fixed up’ by my awesome client, that had some questionable siding and a gigantic backyard on a cul de sac.’

My client had an offer on a new home, though, and finally agreed to sell his home for what the market value showed us it was worth, much to his dismay.

ALSO much to his dismay, his lender who was a mortgage brokecropped-covered-bridge-v9.jpgr (not my connection) forgot a few steps in his approval.  And it turns out.  They were BIG DEAL steps to miss.

They forgot to RUN A CREDIT BUREAU.  C had amazing credit though…or so he thought.  It turns out my client, C, had a big heart and had co-signed for someone.  And they had not repaid the loan.

Uh oh.

As the closing day for his home came closer, we discovered something VERY unfortunate. After all of that hard work…C was now going to be HOMELESS.

Throughout the ENTIRE process and even to this day, I think of C fondly and, even better, he thinks of ME fondly.  I kept him updated.  I worked HARD.  I did everything I could do.  And he appreciated it.  We still keep in touch though less often now – but his story was one of the most important lessons of all.  Always double check your approvals.

LESSONS I LEARNED 

  • Always verify the ‘zoning’ of a home before you list it.  Another agent will call you on it if you haven’t done your homework.  This applies to everything you need to look up.
  • Always hire the professionals to do what they do best.  You were hired to be a REALTOR(R).  Hire the photographer to take the photos!  Few things look worse than listing photos taken on a cell phone or a digital camera.  Especially when you can see the agent in the mirror or dirty dishes in the sink.
  • Trust your ability to price a home.  I will level with my clients right away.  If they want to list the house at XX amount, let’s do it.  But we will have to watch the market activity very carefully and change if needed.  Overpricing results in longer market times and lower sale prices 
  • Always keep your sellers (and buyers) updated.  Even when it is unpleasant.
  • Keep your foot on the gas and don’t give up.  Some VERY creative thinking comes in handy when you are 60 days in and you have lowered by $40,000 but still aren’t selling.
  • Work with your clients to help them select WHO they are going to for lending, legal services, home inspections, renovations, painting, repairs etc.  This helps you strengthen your relationships with the client AND your network of professionals.
  • Never show up empty handed to see your clients.  Whether it’s apple pie, candy or  a pop by gift, your clients appreciate the gesture.
  • Always keep the client’s best interest in mind.  If you aren’t all about yourself and your commission, they will feel this.
  • Celebrate with them – and if need be – mourn with them.  You and your clients are connected very deeply while their home is listed.  Honour that relationship 🙂
  • Learn from every experience 🙂 And teach others if you can.  Serving others truly feeds the soul.