Realtor: "A Real Estate Broker or Real Estate Agent is a person who acts as an intermediary between sellers and buyers of real estate/real property and attempts to find sellers who wish to sell and buyers who wish to buy."
That's the definition for "Realtor" as defined by Wikipedia, but it doesn't begin to scratch the surface. My client and good friend said it best:
"Hey Julie," came the request, "I need a 'house coach.' We're considering some improvements. Can you come over and talk us through them?"
YES I CAN!
I have written pieces in the past that describe my profession as part designer, part psychologist, part financial planner . . . (The Butcher, the Baker, The Candlestick Maker!) but 'House Coach' may be the best and most appropriate description I have heard to date. (I wish I'd thought of it myself.)
In a world where people think nothing of hiring a fitness coach, a nutritional coach, or a LIFE coach for goodness sakes, why not a "house coach?" In a very practical sense that's exactly the role we Realtors assume. (After all "improvements" can be very subjective! Your turquoise bathroom might not be the advantage you thought when you go to resell.)
Like a coach, a Realtor whips your property into shape, engages the right specialists, builds a reliable team, thoroughly investigates, creates a winning game plan, critically analyzes the competition, communicates the plays, and makes quick decisions - often under very stressful circumstances.
We also recruit Buyers and Sellers from other areas and states, "sell" them on the community and what it has to offer, and "cheer" on the sale, as we securely guide it - and you - through the escrow process.
Occasionally, we will even have to sideline your sale until the market responds more favorably and it can better deliver your expectations. At other times, we may have to reset your expectations altogether OR look for other solutions that meet your needs in a more pragmatic way. So while I had previously described myself as a "cheerleader," upon further reflection, my duties and skills go well beyond simply cheering you on and acting as an "intermediary" in the sale or purchase of a home. "Intermediary" doesn't begin to adequately describe the many hats I wear, nor the fiduciary responsibility I have to you; one I take quite seriously.
However my duties are defined, there are MANY more that are undefined, but equally, if not more important to the process. These include empathy, intuition, deductive reasoning (a bit of Sherlock Holmes), organization, negotiation, and hopefully, humor. (Because if we're not at least smiling, what's the point?)
The fact is, I often come into your lives at very critical junctures (your own version of the Super Bowl) and developing faith and trust quickly in one another is not only crucial, it's critical. (Bringing some levity to the process is my own personal bonus.) There may be a new baby on the way, OR one or both of you are being transferred, OR there's been a death in the family - and so it goes. Life has a way of delivering unexpected interceptions!
With respect to your Realtor, adjusting to whatever life brings your way is more easily done when you invite us into the process early on, are completely honest with us about your financial profile (that's a tough one for many), and deliver feedback on a regular basis that helps us refine the process, communicate with you more effectively, and meet your needs on both an emotional and a financial level. When you wait until the last minute to include us in your buying or selling process, you haven't really gotten your money's worth now, have you?
Please don't worry about "bothering" me. IT'S MY JOB and I love hearing from you. After weeks, months and sometimes, years (yes, years!) of working together, many of you have become family. (In some cases, I hear from you more often. That's a hint son, CALL YOUR MOTHER!)
Over time, I get to watch your kids grow up, grow out, and move on . . . such is the nature of our relationship. So feel free to call or email me with your questions, whatever they may be:
"Does my master bathroom need a tub? (Not necessarily if there are others in the house.)
"Do you know of a good window specialist/plumber/contractor? (I do!)
"Do I need to get pre-approved for a loan before buying?" (Yes!)
:Can I adjust my property taxes?" (Possibly.)
"Remodel or move?" (It depends? How much do you like your location?)
Whatever your questions, I am happy to respond and if I don't have the answers, I'll find someone who does. So let's work together. I'll "coach" you through it. Game on!
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.