Today is National REALTOR Day.
I began my real estate career in 1994 after working ten years in commercial interior design. My last day of work as a full time 8-5 employee was just a few days before I went into labor with my first child. He is now 21.
Being a REALTOR (the title is trademarked) means you are a real estate agent who is a member of the Association of REALTORS and complete education and professional requirements every two years to be up to date on laws, marketing information as well as technology.
I, like many who ask me about being a Realtor, believed this career would provide me with a flexible job that would work well with my “child rearing responsibilities”. I got my license shortly after he was born thinking I could “be at home more” with him. Little did I know the time and effort that goes into a transaction.
Back then, there was barely an internet. The REALTOR was the gatekeeper with all of the secret information, your guide, your counselor. We scheduled our appointments by telephone, fewer times by cell phone. We drove our clients around in our vehicles. Today buyers like to be in their own vehicles for the most part. We printed out paper to show the home information and delivered contracts by hand. Fax was the fast way and usually a response came a few days later.
As far as flexibility of schedules are concerned, my first years in real estate I often had a two and four year old in the car eating cereal snacks and watching a VHS tape of Barney in the small TV I had rigged to play in my Suburban. It was not the glamorous or predictable lifestyle I had dreamed of. Quite often, people wanted to see the properties just as they were getting off work or on weekends in the middle of soccer practice.
Today, my schedule is still flexible, and thanks to the internet I can email a response as well as a dozen photos in a few minutes. The difference now is that I might be making deals at night with a response expected immediately. Technology is a must for today’s Realtor. I also have a child who is older than my two back then, and more adaptable as well.
This generation of buyers is much more savvy and you can bet they have done their homework. They usually know what they are looking for or have researched the schools or narrowed down to a location. In fact, sometimes they find properties that we are not aware of, thanks to some of those mega information sites that may or may not provide accurate information.
Many families choose to sell their homes themselves, making the job of the Realtor more challenging as there is not a uniform cross section of data for us to use while making a home search for our clients. Most home sellers are also savvy and are willing to work with agents who represent buyers.
A most awkward moment occurs for a for sale by owner seller when the buyer decides to make an offer. Perhaps the items being negotiated for that were not spelled out in a document such as we have through MLS (multiple listing service) that lets you know grandmother’s chandelier will be REMOVED at purchase. These are the things that a Realtor can help a buyer address, as well. We are also required to update the status of properties promptly so if you use www.realtor.com you are assured to have up to the minute information.
Sites created for sale by owner advertising provide an avenue for pictures as well as general information, but they lapse in the service that has again become the thing that attracts clients to the Realtor. That is the renewed definition in the role as the gatekeeper.
With valuables being in the home, medications that are often targeted, and safety concerns it is important for homeowners to be wary of the risks of opening your home to a complete stranger.
As a Realtor, I take it as my responsibility to meet with a client if possible before showing a home. A qualification from a bank helps the client know exactly what our target market is and gives them confidence in a firm offer. This also avoids our bothering homeowners that might not be in that price range but whose property may be of initial interest to the potential buyer.
In addition, I usually ask for a copy of a drivers license. We cannot be too careful, for ourselves or our client’s who are opening their homes as they offer them for sale.
While Realtors are still defining their roles in the world of home buying and selling, the best plus for a home seller is the marketing expertise they receive. With Realtors networking weekly, having caravans and open houses for fellow professional members of their boards of Realtors, you can assure when you hire one Realtor, you are getting the force of the membership behind you as well.
Whether you sell by owner or hire a REALTOR, remember we are all working for the same goal, to help you or someone else enjoy the American dream of owning their own home.
I hope if you see a Realtor today who is rushing to and fro, obviously working a deal on a cell phone at dinner with their family at a restaurant or at the soccer field, give them a big hug! They will gratefully appreciate it!
Blessings to my REALTOR friends who raise the bar each and every day!
Allison sells real estate in Tuscaloosa, home of Alabama’s Crimson Tide and writes her Lake Living Column for Druid City Living Newspaper from Lake Tuscaloosa. Get info on properties available in her area of Alabama at www.allisonadamsrealtor.com