I often joke that Realtors are like therapists (except we practice without a license), which is my way of saying that there's a fair amount of difficult conversations, hand-holding and empathy that go along with this profession (there is), but after a conversation last Saturday with a past client who mentioned that she really appreciated how direct I'd been (brutally blunt sometimes), how organized our process (a little OCD goes a long way), and how we'd managed to keep both her and her husband moving forward without getting sidetracked (that's imperative), I'll need to augment my job description from here on out.
"You were like a white-water river guide," Betsy enthused, "steering us through the rapids and not letting us swirl around in the eddies, flip over, OR get caught up on a rock . . . I'm still amazed and grateful."
Thank you, I'm flattered.
Let me preface her kind comments by saying that letting go and moving on hadn't been any easier for Mac and Betsy than it is for most Sellers; they'd lived in their lovely home for a long time, raised their children to adulthood, and meticulously renovated their fabulous property themselves. (Betsy's husband is a successful contractor by trade.) So to suggest that they were heavily invested in their home would be an understatement, to say the least. But whether you have personally hammered in every nail (as Mac did), in my experience, almost everyone is emotionally connected to their house.
When you think about the memories created in a home: the birthday celebrations, the holidays, the block parties, the first steps . . . it makes sense. Which is to say that almost ALL home owners have moments of sheer panic, second guessing and soul searching come time to sell. Wouldn't it be foolish to expect anything else? (Why yes, it would.)
Consequently, my role as your Realtor, despite my tongue-and-cheek suggestion that Realtors must also act as your therapist is that we're not really like therapists at all; we're more akin to a train conductor driving tons of steel down the tracks, OR a farmer plowing under the fields, OR as Betsy described it - a river guide navigating extremely swift water!
Unlike therapy, I don't have the luxury of time when it comes to selling your beautiful home, nor would you want me to drag out the process longer than absolutely necessary. Remember, we're trying to capture a very hot market at its peak, so those years you spent on the couch sorting out your deepest, darkest desires, your hot button issues, or your complicated relationship with your MOTHER!?! (sorry mom), yeah, that's not the journey we'll be on together. . . not by a long shot. The truth is, the less time you spend with your Realtor, the more successful your outcome is likely to be, while I'm going to guess that when it comes to therapy, the exact opposite applies.
Moreover, we're not going to spend a great deal of time exploring how you "feel" about it, diving into the past, or ruminating in self-discovery. (Let me save you the trouble - you're going to be entirely uncomfortable, if not down right resentful at certain requests or actions I suggest.) If you reach the "AH HA!" moment (and that usually arrives along with the offers) so much the better, but my success, with respect to your sale, isn't necessarily connected with your "feelings" about it, one way or the other. Ultimately, the true test is based on your results, not on the emotions surrounding the transaction.
In fact, I would argue that an important element of my job, as a third-party negotiator, is to set aside my feelings, your feelings and the other Agents' feelings as well . . . In other words, let the Buyers feel emotional over the purchase; that's their role to play. But if the highest and best price is the intended goal, Sellers should seek to sell pragmatically whenever possible and leave their feelings behind. (It's why smart Realtors rarely put Buyers and Sellers together before the close of escrow; there are WAY too many emotions involved.)
Hey, I'm not devoid of feelings, (just ask my kids and husband), but I'm here to tell you that when it comes to selling, gut emotions never serve the deal. What's more, I believe you've hired me to successfully navigate the sale of your home through the close of escrow - not to add drama to the equation. (I can assure you that selling is dramatic enough . . .)
So grab a paddle, throw on a life jacket and let's hit the rapids. It's probably going to be a bumpy ride, but I promise to deliver you safely to the opposite shore. (How does that make you feel?)
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.