It's snowy here in the great Northeast and I am sitting at my desk trying to resist going off on a rant and sounding like an crazy old man...
Too late! Can't stand it any more. It's Crazy Old Man time!
When I started in the real estate business in 1982 I am not going to say there weren't computers, but essentially there weren't computers. I mean they were out there, but first they were pretty difficult to operate (anyone remember MS DOS?) and they were not being used in the real estate business.
I'm not here to say that computers are bad, because honestly... I LOVE 'em! You should too... they're here to stay you know! They really have simplified our lives. Put incredible amounts of information (and misinformation) at our disposal. And communication?!!! Revolutionized how easily we can get our messages out. So for the most part ... good.
But let me zero in on a dynamic that you, outside the real estate business especially, may not be aware of. Like I said, I started as a Realtor in 1982. Our database for houses for sale was the Capital Region Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS). It came in the form of a BOOK. Published weekly, but every other week was only the "new" listings... the other week was the complete inventory. There was a thing called the "Hot Sheet" which was mailed weekly to every broker who was a member of the CRMLS. And if you were truly ambitious you could physically visit the CRMLS offices and check out the new listings that had just been submitted. (They had them on clipboards in the vestibule... one clipboard for each day). So if you had a buyer that you wanted to get the "hottest" info for you needed to go down to the offices. I can tell you that there were never many agents there when I went...
Oh, but I said I was going to zero in on something. And that something was how we presented our offers. I am not going to give you a historical lesson on the agency part of this because it's too lengthy. But here's what would happen.
After my buyers left my office, having signed a purchase offer I would call the agent who had the house listed. This was usually done on a "land line". So we would have to catch them at the office or their home. I would tell the agent that I have an offer and I would like to present it as soon as possible.
You know what happened next? They would ask me when I would like to present it. For example I would say, "How about tomorrow morning at 10 am?" They would tell me they'll get back to me. Usually within a few minutes the phone would ring and the agent would say something like this, "My sellers can meet you at their house at 11 am... Is that OK with you?" I, of course would say yes.
Here's what I think has changed and not for the better. I would go to their house. I would be welcomed in by their agent and we would go into, say, the kitchen and sit down. The listing agent would introduce me and we would exchange pleasantries. I would tell them what a cool house they had... didn't your kid go to Guilderland High?... Wow can you believe how hot it's been.... Then we would settle in and start talking turkey.
But guess what was going on here? From my side of the table, I was gathering information, observing mannerism, looking into their eyes, FEELING the transaction. I was helping the listing agent to feel at ease. I was trying to project confidence so that the sellers would feel that this set of buyers and their agent could get this done.
And even before the paperwork got put on the table, I spent some time describing my buyers and their family. I painted a picture of this new owner lovingly caring for their home just like they did. I talked about where they came from and what they do for a living. I made the buyers real to them. In fact I usually got the sellers to like the buyers.
So now the rubber meets the road.
I present the offer as the listing agent listens in... all the while reading body language... facial expressions... looking into their eyes... gathering unwritten and intangible information. To help me better understand the sellers and to help me do a better job representing the buyers.
After I go through the presentation, I sit back and LISTEN... and observe. Sometimes a listing agent will ask me to give them a couple of moments so they can speak freely... but often the discussion takes place right away with me present.
If we have differences... prices... dates... chattle... whatever, I ask them to help me to understand the difference(s), so that I can communicate it properly to my buyers. I take notes... so they see that I am going to get it right and I am organized. Building confidence. But really what I am trying to do is to verify and overcome objections. "So if it weren't for the closing date being too soon, am I to understand that you would feel comfortable signing this agreement today?" or "If I could convince my buyers to move that date to accomodate your schedule, can we say we have a deal?"
9 times out of 10 we could come to an agreement right then and there. And the sellers would feel pretty good about who's buying their home and their agent that is overseeing the process.
What I'm talking about here is interpersonal relationships. Communication skills. Negotiating skills. Psychology.
You know what happens today? The listing agent tells us "Fax the offer over to me". I'd really like to present it in person. "No... just fax it and I'll present it."
You know what? I think, that if we would discuss more of these things in person... we'd sell a lot more houses. What do you think?
Like I said... I am not against computers and faxes and modern technology... I just think we could still utilize the human element to get it done.