Maybe I should be embarrassed admitting this, but at 55 years of age, I'm astonished to discover that I've spent my entire life peeling the banana from the wrong end!
According to one well-known chef on a popular morning show, it's actually much easier to peel a banana from the bottom, rather than the top. Don't believe me? Give it a try.
Granted, this silly tidbit isn't world-shattering information, but it does give one pause with respect to what we THINK we know, and what we actually DO know. . .
When it comes to Real Estate, there are LOTS of misconceptions at play and the first of many may be: "It doesn't matter who sells our house; they're all the same." (Hence the out-of-area signs!?! What's up with that?)
Au contraire my banana-eating friends, we're absolutely NOT all the same.
The plain truth is that it's a fairly simple process to obtain a real estate license(probably too simple given the high stakes involved) and when times are profitable, as they are now, nearly every Tom, Dick and Harry does. No offense to Tom, Dick or Harry, it's just that having a real estate license and having a successful practice are like apples and oranges. In short, not ALL Agents are created equal, nor are all brokerage firms.
Here at The GRUBB Co., my Brokers, DJ Grubb and John Karnay bend over backwards to instill in their team, important concepts such as: "ongoing education," "risk management," and "best practices" in weekly meetings designed to help support our Buyers and Sellers and keep them from making mistakes that may lead to future litigation. ("Danger, Will Robinson!") And while early-morning lectures on "best practices" aren't always met with enthusiasm by the crowd, they're critically important, given that millions of dollars are undoubtedly, on the line.
But let's assume for the sake of argument that every Agent (aunt, uncle, second cousin, friend,and banana picker) pursues such disciplines (they don't, but let's assume it anyway) there are also big differences from Realtor to Realtor. Largely because we don't grow in bunches (another banana reference) but are in essence, sub-contractors and unique human beings, each responsible for our own book of business and each, evolving somewhat independently as we grow and develop our craft. (Not everyone writes a weekly blog, admitting their banana issues, so there you go . . . BTW - mine have to be perfectly yellow, with not a single brown spot or they quickly become the main ingredient in banana bread.)
Which means that some agents are going to be analytically driven, while others are going to be warm and fuzzy; some are going to be highly detail-oriented, while others, less so; some, personally attentive to your needs, while others are organized in large teams (or big bunches).
Just last week, I met a Realtor in the South Bay who bragged he has 30 assistants who all work for him. (Good for him, although that may be going waaay overboard on the whole team concept.) Hey, there's no judgment here(well maybe there's a little), it's simply a matter of understanding what style works best for you and who best meets your needs. In the end, I like to believe there are many more professionals out there, than part-timers; dedicated Agents who love what they do and do it with integrity and care; local experts who understand their regional protocol and work diligently to serve their clients' needs - and that makes a world of difference - to your outcome!
Mind you, we're not mind readers (a little play on words) so we need your input as we discover the best way to proceed. You may prefer an Agent who asks for your keys and then proceeds to take the lead, or you may desire an equal partner as you pursue your goals, but it's up to you to communicate with us as to your expectations.
My personal style is driven by hard work, market analysis, ongoing information, hard work, empathy, tough love, hard work, organization, and a heavy dose of humor mixed in. (Anyone who started their career dancing as Porky Pig at Great America better know how to laugh.) Like many of my respected colleagues, I've played lots of different roles depending on my clients' immediate requirements. (We have to adjust as circumstances dictate.) Unfortunately, some houses are a bit more bruised and beat up than others, meaning there's far more oversight and coordination required to get where we are going. (Some clients are more bruised as well.) Whether is low-hanging fruit or much tougher to get at, finding solutions is primarily our job. (Bring it on.)
AND because the process of selling and buying here in the Bay Area can be extremely fast, chaotic, frenzied, scary, intense, and confusing (and that's on a good day), it's incredibly important that you pick an Agent whom you trust implicitly; someone with whom you have immediate report and one who understands your emotional needs, knowing that even with all of that, selling and buying real estate in this highly-charged marketplace, may just leave you peeling the banana from the wrong end!
So choose wisely, ask questions, define your goals, outline your expectations, and clarify the qualities you seek. When it comes to buying or selling, there are a lot of unknowns you won't be able to control, but when it comes to choosing your Agent, you get to decide, and isn't that the best part of this fruity tale? (Yes, it is.)
Hey, I'm not monkeying around here; this is serious business.
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.