Thursday, May 11, 2006

What the heck do I do? Working with yours truly...

It has become evident to me that many first time buyers avoid working with a Realtor (at first) because they have no idea what to expect from one. I have also had recent clients—someone I have met at an Open House or a referral—that have generally started their search with me. These clients, however, are sometimes equally void of expectations of service and where my consultation comes in handy.

This is a real and fundamental problem. My business is based on the successful consultation of my clients’ real estate purchase or sale. It’s no different than a lawyer who concentrates in personal injury cases or a nurse who maintains care of cancer patients. We must trust these practitioners.

In other terms, think of how long it would take you to replace a leaky roof. The economy of scale and expertise needed make it a prohibited activity for most people. So, they turn to a roofer. While the roofer spends two days for an entire tear-off and replacement, you are off tending to your own career, enjoying leisure time, researching investments, or working on another project you are better equipped for. Try it yourself, and it could be a week or month of fully concentrated effort. A “do- it- your- self” mentality in this case of roof repairs is not cost effective.

It’s serious work that professionals engage in day after day, year after year. I reach out to open house visitors, Internet consumers, and visitors to our office to make this point. Real estate is serious work I engage in day after day, year after year. It just takes a little trust in the practitioner.

Because my focus is in residential real estate, I spend most of my time refining the home purchase process for my clients. So here are a few tips for working with a Realtor. I guarantee if one is open to the following concepts, the home search will offer an education and experience in ownership that is of great benefit.

I plan on refining a lot of the following…putting it in a logical order. But this is a blog however, so I wanted to get some of these observations out there.

The Buy Side:

THE SEARCH: I suppose the most recognizable Realtor service is locating a property that meets a clients needs. Considering there are over 53,654 properties currently in the Multiple Listing Service of Northern Illinois (our shared home listing system) there is a need to pare it down a bit.

It really pays to open up a dialogue about what you are looking for. When I meet people for the first time, I really want to know what they want and expect in a home purchase. Is it neighborhood or more space? Parking or public trans? Sounds basic, but it is surprising how many people end up loving a home that is really different from what they originally told me they wanted.

This is because of two reasons:

First, they truly did not know the local market. Many first time buyers simply have trouble getting their heads around real estate values in Chicago. I can usually help change the perspective of ownership in Chicago. Where some people have gotten discouraged and gave up on ownership because expectations are not met, I’ve helped clients understand the value of Chicago real estate and to adapt to what I call “real” city living.

Secondly, the public search technology for consumers can be deceiving. Although I totally embrace all the information available (it many times makes working with better educated clients easier) it takes years to learn neighborhoods, amenities, quality of life issues, and market value. This can not always be done in a relatively short home search. Consumers dive into the endless world of real estate search engines, products, evaluators, brochures, sales offices, virtual tours, etc… It will get overwhelming quite fast. For example, for each technical skill I learn for my PC and Blackberry, I could spend endless hours learning another and another. When does it stop?

A real estate search, at face value alone, can be a consuming and anxious process without a good consultant to work with. How do you know you have looked at enough? Is there some neighborhood I don’t know about? What the heck is available in my budget and how do I live in that? Maybe I can make better sense of it. Maybe I can help make it happen.

More tomorrow on the process… ONCE YOU FIND A PLACE

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