Wednesday is the my favorite day of the week BECAUSE it's the day when my housekeepers descend (bless them). I know that when I return from my busy day at the office, my world will feel perfectly ordered and that every surface will shine (if only briefly, until the boys come home and the dog finds his way to the foot of the bed). The towels will be crisply hung, the pillows lined up like little soldiers, and my hardwood floors will gleam. It's my idea of heaven. (I'll concede, yours might be different.)
However, it's my actions before their 8 am arrival that makes this day less pleasurable for my husband and son as I unapologetically race through the house setting the stage, which means making sure both Cliff and Tristan are UP, that the beds are stripped, and that the dishwasher is emptied (guilty as charged). Sure, my family would prefer to eat a bowl of cereal while rubbing the sand out of their sleepy eyes, but there are clothes to put away and counters to clear. (Man oh man, I gotta really ride these guys to get them moving that early in the morning.)
"Aren't the housekeepers supposed to do this?" Cliff naively asks week after week. "Wh0 cleans for the cleaners?" Everybody! (Honestly, sometimes he can be so silly.)
The truth is, I'm not paying these hardworking ladies to do the obvious chores my family can, and should, be doing (like hanging up their jackets), I am paying them to accomplish those tasks I conveniently ignore such as dusting the bookshelves, tackling the spider webs, and removing the spots on the shower doors. (Don't even get me started about dust balls under the bed!)
Not surprisingly, addressing the more challenging tasks is an important component of Real Estate as well. Certainly, we are quite content to show you a house you'll love, but it's the less obvious work your agent does that, truth be told, earns our commissions.
With the Internet at everyone's fingertips, combing through the available inventory and identifying which homes a Buyer would like to see is more often than not, falling upon the the home buyer themselves. Seldom are the outings when I actually drive Buyers around in my car, presenting house after house (although that does still occur).
Nowadays, Buyers are much more likely to meet me (with kids and parents in tow) at a property that they have not only identified, but have Googled as well . . . In short, they have done their homework, know everything about the Seller and the surrounding neighborhood, and are fully engaged. You gotta admire this generation.
So what do I bring to the equation (besides my lockbox key)?
That's a fair question; so glad you asked . . .
A good Realtor knows and analyzes the market on an ongoing basis, tours regularly, can accurately assess value, will read the disclosures with a discerning eye, will identify potential red flags, will have honest discourse throughout the transaction (even if it means talking you out of the home), will point out the pros and cons, will identify your objectives, will speak with your lender and request pre-approval letters, will thoroughly explain the contract and disclosures to you, will craft a competitive offer, will negotiate on your behalf, will guide you through the inspection process, will clearly explain your options as each phase of the process, will provide licensed vendors, will carefully follow the timelines as set forth in the purchase agreement, will meet you to sign the closing documents, and will stay connected long after the sale for any questions or concerns you may have. And that's just on the buy side!
On the selling end, we will create a comprehensive marketing plan for your home, meet with stagers, gardeners, painters, window washers, and inspectors, will keep you informed, will set up Broker's Tours and Open Houses, will bake cookies (okay, that might just be me), will put the neighborhood on notice, will create flyers, postcards and advertisements, will order title reports, will prepare disclosures, will request permit histories, will coordinate the sewer lateral and other required "Point-of-Sale" ordinances, will work to protect you from lawsuits, will answer questions for prospective buyers and their agents, will communicate often, will water the garden and keep the house clean, will listen to offers and negotiate on your behalf, will verify the credit worthiness of the Buyers, will follow the timelines set forth in the purchase offer, will meet you to sign the closing papers and will fill in any other needs you may have. (Whew!)
Have I answered your question?
While Real Estate sales may start with a pretty home, the real action takes place behind those doors and windows, and among the growing mounds of paperwork we study and digest on your behalf. In reality, a successful deal frequently comes together after weeks, months, or even years of preparation and coordination; and not infrequently after several disappointments, losses, and mounting stress. (Few transitions are as stressful as selling or buying a home, even under the happiest of circumstances.)
Hang in there, eventually it will come together.
Above all else, skillful interaction between Realtor and client requires empathy and understanding, a fair amount of cheer leading, a strong support network, a considerable amount of counseling, thoughtful communication, ongoing education, thorough investigation, and clearly defined EXPECTATIONS - and that's just for starters . . .
Good work and a successful outcome isn't about what we are supposed to do, it's about how we serve and help one another to be the very best we can. Hey, we can sleep in tomorrow . . . (or maybe not).
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.