There are few things that make me as nervous as sitting down in a dentist's chair. Sure, public speaking is nerve-wracking, but for me, my semi-annual visits to the dentist are at the top my fear-factor list. Even a routine teeth cleaning is cause for anxiety. I'm not just talking about the fees (although the cost of dentistry is truly frightening), I'm referring to that high-pitched sound the tools make, the anti-septic atmosphere, and the laundry list of items that still need to be addressed as my old dental work begins to fail. Like dual-pane windows or sewer laterals, there's a due date on the hardware in our mouths (and I have a very expensive mouth).
"Open wide. . ."
It's not a logical response, but an entirely visceral one, (think Little Shop of Horrors and you've got a sense of my family dentist growing up), and admittedly, completely unfair to the knowledgable professionals at Montclair Smile Design who currently treat me with tremendous care and compassion every time I pass through their doors.
Last week, I met with Dr. Deschene who replaced two crowns, and couldn't have been kinder or more skilled. Floating on nitrous oxide, numbed by novocaine, and listening to Kelly Corrigan Wonders (thank you, Kelly), Dr. Deschene calmly and expertly guided me through the procedure explaining the process while reassuring me every step along the way. I semiconsciously nodded and drooled in agreement, as if I was following along. (I wasn't.)
Suffice it to say that I don't have ANY training in dentistry beyond the knowledge that flossing is supposedly important. Unlike our hardwood floor man, Tony, whose work we can plainly see and judge, the mouth (even my own mouth) is a total mystery to me. How do I know I'm in good hands? I actually don't.
"Take it easy on me," I jokingly threatened, "or you may end in my blog!"
"I'm a perfectionist," Dr. Deschene assured me, "and fairly hard on myself. No worries there, you're in excellent hands" . . . and then he expertly set to work.
Like every profession, there are those who excel at their jobs, those who are merely competent, and those who definitely do NOT make the grade, although for most of us, understanding the distinction between the greats and the not-so-greats, is well beyond our grasp, which is to say that no one employs a dentist, an attorney, or a doctor, assuming they'll be mediocre. To a certain extent, we all take a leap of faith. But here's what I experienced having now spent a few hours with the good doctor - he was gentle and kind, he was helpful and knowledgeable, and his intentions were to give me the best service he could provide, and in my book, intentions go a long, LONG way!
Likewise, no one hires a Realtor thinking they haven't mastered their craft. In point of fact, Buyers and Sellers often think we are all interchangeable; that real estate is easy, and that anyone can do it, and that's far from the truth. While Real Estate doesn't require an advanced degree, it does require a large amount of knowledge over a fairly broad range of topics. It demands multi-tasking, creative thinking, problem-solving, counseling, coaching, and a whole host of other skill sets that we bring to the job. Consequently, to think that one Realtor is the same as another, one deal is the same as another, or one area is the same as another, is to risk making a rather critical mistake on what is likely to be your single largest investment. To put it bluntly, if you are hiring your Agent based on commission alone (and many of you are), you're not looking deep enough, or considering the broader ramifications.
Moreover, Agents shouldn't "dabble" in areas in which they have little expertise. (Had I needed oral surgery, I'm sure Dr. Dechene would have referred me to an oral surgeon.) If you are looking for commercial real estate, your residential agent isn't your best resource. Likewise, if you want to rent your home, there are laws and regulations, especially around evictions during the time of Covid, that are better explained by a rental specialist who deals exclusively with rentals day in and day out. You want to buy in Sonoma, Tahoe, or Santa Cruz? Let me introduce you to someone who knows the local ordinance, guidelines, and inventory. As much as I'd love to procure the sale, you'll be much better served by local expertise.
Like Dr. Dechene who has trained extensively in his field of practice, the best Realtors are specialists who are poised to guide you through the complex process of buying or selling a property with knowledge, skill, care, and compassion (not to mention tough love). Because, like going to the dentist, selling a home can be a scary proposition, especially if you don't know you're in good hands. And when it comes to selling or buying a home, you want to collaborate with Agents who align with the best of intentions.
How can we help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.