Real estate can be really intense.
New real estate agents are literally thrown to the wolves in their first transaction. Obtaining a real estate license never really prepares one for the realities of the process, the personalities, the details and the experience of handling a “hard to deal” with situation.
Let me back up for a moment.
Junior real estate agents do not have senior real estate agents helping us through our first few years. Nobody is really there to show us the ropes. Nobody is there to tell us what (and who) to watch out for.
We are taught that we have to be hunter gatherers. That we must always be on the lookout for opportunities, and that we must gather as many potential buyer and seller leads whenever we can…with the hopes of landing a sale sooner than later. This is tough, and I liken it to hovering over a pile of sticks in a dark, damp forest… feverishly striking two rocks together, praying for a spark.
I was once this agent. Brand new. Doing all that I could to make business happen. And while I never completely dropped the ball and let everything fall apart, there were a few times early in my career when things got a little dicey.
This was before I learned that telling someone everything can have devastating effects.
One in particular situation stands out in my mind.
I was working with a buyer client and they needed to find a home soon. They were the nicest people. So friendly…always concerned about my schedule. And even better, they were ideal clients. Their property in Virginia was under contract. They were here for the weekend to buy a home, they did not want to see too many, and they needed a place FAST.
I showed them four properties and then we rolled up to one that they got really excited about. From the street, it looked like a perfect fit. It had a water view, the sun was setting, the house was literally glowing in golden twilight and their eyes lit up.
I was equally as excited. A few hours work, a $600,000 sale. Life was looking really good for Nat Wallen (Realtor who just a few hours ago was striking those rocks together, hoping for the spark).
And then my heart sank.
As I stepped out of the car, I saw the sign. I checked the MLS readout.
Sure enough, the listing agent was my arch nemesis. She was this woman who I will call “Jane Dough”. Jane Dough was in it for the commission. Jane Dough is someone who I had dealt with in the past. Jane Dough was always one to fight about every detail. Jane Dough made me question whether anything and everything she said was even true.
You see, my history with Jane was very unique. I had dealt with Mrs. Dough a few years before.
I had brought her an offer on one of her listings. Keep in mind, I am not one to cause problems, and am generally a very easy person to get along with. (I am also not one to roll over and let anyone take advantage of me either)…
She knew I was new, and proceeded to be the most difficult person I have ever dealt with in real estate.
If I wanted to inspect the house in the afternoon, only the morning would work. If I wanted to do it in the morning, only the afternoon was good for her clients.
It did not matter what the detail was, every single phone call (and it seems like there were hundreds) she was there on every call just to make things difficult.
Needless to say, I was not too terribly excited about this listing because Jane Dough’s name and face were right there, smiling at me as I made the dreaded walk to find the key. Sure enough, the lockbox was deep in the bushes and before I showed the house Jane had already irked me.
Important Note: No agent should ever hide a lockbox deep in the bushes. What if it were raining?
We proceeded to see the house and the buyers loved it. We spent about an hour there and they were going to sleep on it and it was very likely we would be meeting to write an offer in the morning.
I drove them back to the hotel and then made the dreaded call:
“Hello Jane, it’s Nat Wallen. How are you today?”
“Fine Nat, I am really busy. How can I help you?”
“Well I just showed your waterfront home and my clients like it. Are there any offers?
“Yes Nat, I have several people interested in it.”
“Ok, do you have any offers on it?” (didn’t I just ask that question?)
“We have had so much activity on it. My clients will not take less than full price.”
“Ok, so is it still available?”
“Someone showed it last week, and they say they have written an offer but they have not delivered it yet.”
I then asked, “so it is still technically available then?.”
“Well, technically yes, but I would not hold my breath if you have clients that are interested because I just have so much activity on this house.”
We proceeded to talk for several minutes about the house, and she proceeded to continue talking out of both sides of her mouth. I proceeded to remember every single conversation I had with her in the past. They all left me questioning if this woman could ever told the truth about anything.
And then I proceeded to make a HUGE mistake. (This was my mistake and nobody else’s. I take full responsibility for my error.)
I called my clients and told them word for word what she said. I literally regurgitated the entire conversation. I even proceeded to tell them about my sordid history I had with Jane Dough. My jawbone took over. I just could not hold back.
And then it happened.
My once really easy to get along with clients switched gears on me.
My once, super friendly buyers turned into hardcore stress mongers with an axe to grind about the real estate process and purchasing a home. They were not angry with me, but they seemed to take the challenge of working with this agent standing in the way of their dream home very seriously and quite personally as well.
When I wrote the contract, they chose to demand an immediate response.
I suggested giving the seller 24 hours to respond. This is typically my best advice. This way we are not perceived as as holding a gun to anyone’s head.
Nope, they wanted an answer in 4 hours.
Sure enough, Jane fought me on it. She refused and told me the clients were out of town. My clients did not believe it, because they saw both their cars there that morning after driving by.
This infuriated my clients, and every step along the way just kept getting worse.
And here is the thing, I poured full on the fire.
I was in the thick of it and did not have the knowledge…the wisdom … to just keep some things to myself. Nope, I reported back to my clients every detail and peppered in my own.. “ok, so you are not going to believe what is happening now” comments.
Long story short, as Jane was making my life difficult at every turn, I did not have the sense to step back and hold back on some of the details that could have spared my clients their emotional roller coaster ride. If I were not so busy striking these two rocks together, hoping for a spark… I would have had the sense to be a shield of my clients. To protect them from Jane Dough’s wild and unnecessary antics.
So this is the most important lesson I learned…
Be a filter. Be quiet. Be a hero… by holding back some of the details, so the process can be as positive an experience for the buyer and sellers as possible.
Yes, we need to disclose material facts about a transaction. Yes, we need to let buyers and sellers know what is happening. And yes we need to also choose what information to share with everyone.
My life would have been so much better for those 60 days way back in 1998 if I had just had the perspective to hold back on my personal feelings about Mrs. Dough.
Sure, the deal worked out and the buyers and I have continued to be friends and have worked together since, but I almost ruined it because my jawbone could not stop talking.
Here is a quick conversion tip…
When starting to deal with a buyer client. Call the agent. Tell them that you realize their job is hard, and that people are stressed. Rather than roll out the red carpet and let them know that your intentions are to deliver a perfect customer experience…Assure them that you will do all that you can to keep the drama behind the scenes, and your intention is to keep everyone moving forward with a positive mindset.
This will let agents know you are mindful of the delicacies and the important nuances of the relationship. This will let the agents know you know a little bit about what it is like out in the field, and that together, you will make it happen…as a team.