"Photo opportunity!" I giggled as Teresa and I sped up through the intersection in a "pseudo jog," before slowing back down and returning to a more leisurely pace. We'd entered Piedmont's Annual FallFest 5K benefitting the PHS Wellness Center last Saturday morning (totally fun BTW!) so we were crossing paths with volunteers/parents/friends at nearly every intersection.
As a result, I was out to impress - waving, smiling and pumping my arms in mock sprint fashion . . . (we were certainly having a good time, if not setting any new course records). "
You have to pace yourself at these events," I conspiratorially explained to my walking buddy, Teresa, "You may not have noticed, but I'm no longer in my thirties (or forties) so I'm only RUNNING when I see the official course monitors or their cameras. It's all about 'perception!'"
"Perception" was front and center on my mind, having spent the better part of Friday at a work seminar entitled "Perception, Visibility & Influence," conducted by well-known speaker, Joel Garfinkle; a BIG-time business mentor and a prolific author with more than seventeen years of experience coaching business GIANTS like Google, Microsoft, and Starbucks, just to name a few . . .
Given his successful track record coaching Fortune 500 executives, Mr. Garfinkle had earned our rapt attention and he provided some valuable insights into how others "perceive" not only the marketplace, but about how Buyers and Seller "perceive" agents as a whole (evidently, we occupy the rung just above used car salesman - and that's a major problem.)
"You need to tell the story," he emphasized, "because the more 'seamless' you make the process for your Buyers or Sellers, the LESS it appears you actually do. The fact is the majority of the public haven't a clue about what goes on behind the scenes or the value REALTORS provide."
That's True . . .
Nor should you (that's why you've hired us after all) but Joel's point is well taken just the same. When you, as the Buyer or Seller, only enter the marketplace every seven years or so, there's a LOT you won't know and don't know, which means it's our job to educate you in order to make you (and your homes) truly competitive.
What's more, we need to bring you up to speed relatively quickly, or you'll forever fall short of your desired goals. In short, it's all about "perception" and making sure your particular perceptions align with market realities. Remember (and I say this with all due respect) your 'feelings' aren't necessarily facts. Without exception, everybody believes their home is more special than the one down the street (including Realtors) and everybody believes they can outsmart the marketplace! (That rarely happens.)
While the basics of buying and selling remain forever true, the mechanics of the deal have gotten MUCH more sophisticated - especially as it pertains to Real Estate, which is apt to be your single, largest purchase. As a result, there's so much MORE at stake. Between the individual homes, the unknowns of the marketplace as a whole, and the unique personalities and egos that emerge, there are simply many more moving parts in today's more demanding world and that's where your REALTOR earns his/her keep.
New "Point-of-Sale" ordinances constantly come into play, home prices are rapidly rising in many neighborhoods (while simultaneously falling in others). Buyers are more reticent, Sellers are more anxious, lending practices have changed dramatically, appraisals are more exacting, timelines can be tougher to meet, and short sales and foreclosures are now part of the landscape, etc., etc., etc. My job as your Realtor, is to navigate these obstacles on your behalf, negotiate through the hurdles, and secure any loose ends along the way, thus delivering you safely through the close of escrow and securely into your new home. (Whew!)
Which is why it's not uncommon for new agents to exclaim that they'd "just like a 'normal' transaction," to which the more seasoned of us uniformly reply "It doesn't exist!" (We actually shout that.)
While ALL sales have repeating themes (Buyers want to spend LESS while Sellers want to realize MORE) the truth is, every single transaction is a new and challenging experience by virtue of the different parties and circumstances at play. In short, juggling all these often disparate components is NO easy, breezy, casual 5K walk in the park (or through the beautiful tree-lined streets of Piedmont for that matter).
That's why it take years of experience to earn one's stripes, to build a solid reputation, to negotiate with confidence, to have the difficult conversations, to align expectations with reality, to accurately anticipate the market response, and to develop a strategy for both buying and selling that brings real value to the proposition and ensures that you will refer your friends and family and return to us time and again for our battle-earned expertise.
While I might ham it up on the race course, I recognize that buying or selling a home isn't a "pseudo jog" to you; this is your future and I hold it very dear. Whether your intention is to cross the finish line well ahead of the pack, take your time on the journey, or chart a new course altogether, I'll be there. Feel free to give me a call.
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.