I think I will keep “just getting lucky”.

So a little while back, I got an interesting message from a referral partner. He shoots me a text that is something to the effect of…

“Hey you remember the lady from northeastern Ohio that I set you up with, but decided to look on her own? I just got off the phone with her, and she is steady b*tch*ng about what a money pit that house is.”

When I first saw the text, I knew immediately knew who he was talking about and a wave of righteous indignation surged over me. Serves her right. I tried to help her and she was insulting, and had no faith in my awesomeness…and….and….

Dammit that was short lived.  Almost as fast as the good feeling came over me, I realized that I had failed a client. Not by failing to protect her in the home purchasing process…she never let me get that far in. But by failing to be a strong enough communicator, to make her understand my process and how it is designed to protect home buyers. So here is the backstory.

Last summer, referral partner #31 calls me up and tells me about a woman he knows who is moving to central Indiana. She needs a four bedroom house with at least 7 acres and doesn’t want to spend over $275,000. While this is not an impossible task, to find a quality home with those base parameters is tough, even here. So I talk to her, confirm her criteria, and set to doing my work.

After wading through all the listings that loosely fit this target (and there were more than one would think); I filtered off all the obvious losers, those in serious disrepair, and the properties that had contingencies which would likely keep us from getting to close. I ended up sending her a dozen or so properties.

Now if you were looking last summer…and especially if you didn’t manage to get the property you want yet…then you are feeling a wave of jealously like no other. Because you may not have seen 12 available properties close to your criteria all summer. Its been a tough market.

So anyway, I email her the list, along with a few notes on my recommendations.

It wasn’t ten minutes later that I had a return email where she essentially told me that she knew she couldn’t trust a Realtor to show her the good deals. She went to great lengths to repeat how “lucky” she had been to find another 10-15 houses in her range that I had omitted, and how surprised she was that I had not had as good as luck as her. She ended the email with thanks for the help, but that she would be going on to see how lucky she would get.

I have to admit, that stung. It especially stung because I take my fiduciary responsibilities to my clients very seriously. One of the great joys I get from my work is knowing that I can apply my knowledge and skills to helping people get into the home they have always wanted, help them guard against expensive and stressful pitfalls while doing it, and make a decent living without EVER feeling like I ripped someone off. And here this woman who I don’t know just accused me of hiding listings. Either way, it isn’t the first client that went another route… not every business model is a good fit. I moved on.

At any rate, after that treatment…I wanted to feel good that she bought a turd of a house. But I can’t.

I can’t feel good about it, because it is a reflection of how my industry is viewed. People actually think they are better off going it alone than trusting a professional to help them. That’s not a good thing…especially when the purchase we are talking about is likely your single largest purchase, and your primary means of investing in your future.

I also can’t feel good about it because it is a reflection of a failure on my part. If you have read my writings before, then you know I am a bit of an anti-salesman. I will talk you out of buying a house faster than I will talk you into it. I view my role as your broker as someone who is keeping the transaction smooth and keeps you out of harms way. Sure I locate houses and show them…but I don’t sell them, I help you buy them. Part of my approach there is philosophical. I feel better about approaching the business from this end, rather than as a more predatory real estate agent.

The other part of this approach comes from the fact I am not a strong salesman. And this failing hurts potential clients. You see, the really slick guys are masters of getting your trust. Sure its a con, but the result is that you trust them. From that point on, they have the ability to guide you through the process however they choose…because of that trust. I am not slick. I am slow to earn trust because I haven’t spent a bunch of energy learning how to manipulate people. The result of that is that even when I am doing something that is specifically designed to protect your interests, you may or may not have doubts…and we may have to take a side bar and sort things out when we need to be moving through the process…or you may do like this woman and walk away, because I didn’t build that trust.

The good news/bad news of all of this is that i am aware that it is a problem. The better news is that I am still not going to focus on manipulation (or learning to be a salesman) to gain trust. What I am going to do is work on those communication skills, so that my clients fully understand my process and how it helps them. Also, I am going to keep working on building a professional reputation as a Realtor who actually takes care of and protects his clients… and with any “luck” that should be all the trust building I will need.

Have a great day.

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About Robb

A husband, Dad to 5, and Grandpa to 9. US Navy Vet. 18 Year Postal Employee turned full time Realtor. I enjoy a wide variety of things, but you will find that here I mostly write about Indianapolis, government/politics, recent news, and whatever book I am reading or have just finished at the moment.
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