by Lee Abraham
Excitement. Joy. Empowerment. At 22 years old, my first listing, and then shortly after, a sale and a paycheck, were exhilarating experiences. These were real, tangible, “money in the bank” transactions that painted a rookie’s blank canvass with colorful splashes of possibility and success.
I didn’t realize it at the time, because I was too young to have an historical perspective, but the market was rough in the early ‘80s. Interest rates were sky high in the 17-18% range and business was slow. Didn’t matter to me. In fact, I didn’t know any better. Fresh out of college I had very low overhead and no problem getting on the phone and cold calling.
My niche was expired listings. I’d go thru the MLS Book each week (smile a knowing smile if you’ve been in Real Estate long enough to remember the good old heavy as a brick, weekly MLS books!) calling as many owners of expired listings as I could. And there were plenty to call.
Sure enough, I got my share of listings and sold a few houses but soon realized I wasn’t ready for the emotional roller coaster of dealing with buyers and sellers. In short, I started to see that times were tough and people were pissed. So I got into appraising Real Estate instead of selling it. Many years later I got back into sales, but that’s another story for another time. Right now I want to focus on the real emotions of Real Estate.
As the wheels of our economy slowly turn, there are now early signs the overall Real Estate market is recovering. Not everywhere, but in a lot of places. Locally, here in Arizona things are picking up and that’s a good thing. Call it a mood swing. Particularly for us Real Estate agents. Hey, we’ve got to eat too!
And yeah, a lot of investors are also putting on a happy face. Done licking their chops while waiting for prices to bottom out, savvy property people are taking their cue and sinking their teeth into good, solid investments.
Don’t forget the first time buyer. $8,000 bucks, low prices and ridiculously low interest rates (if you can qualify for a loan – more on that some other time) will put a smile on any buyer’s face, first time or otherwise.
OK, fine, there’s a bunch of happy people in the current Real Estate market. More power to ‘em. May their cup runneth over and their song always be sung. As a Real Estate agent, it’s great to work with happy people. But there’s one more group I want talk about. And they’re not particularly happy. I want to talk about Sellers.
In the Red
Rare is the happy seller in today’s market. From the terribly upset old timer who has owned their property for years and still has some equity even in today’s battered market, to the distraught, emotionally shattered, embarrassed, angry and pent-up-with-energy bread winner who’s out of a job, flat broke and leaning on friends and relatives just to survive, sellers come in all shades of red.
No details needed. We all know someone whose life has been torn to pieces by economic forces beyond their control. And unfortunately, many of those down and out innocent victims have a ball and chain around their neck called “home.” You know the “Short” story, the house is worth less than the mortgage and there’s no money to make the monthly payment.
As a Real Estate agent, it’s no fun talking with these people. In fact, dealing with property owners who are selling under hardship is one of the most challenging aspects of the Real Estate business. Always has been. Death, divorce, illness, and many other traditional reasons people sell their home, are seldom pleasant, but mix in the financial devastation of today’s market and it’s even uglier.
Let’s face it, Real Estate agents are paid to help people buy and sell houses. And stay out of trouble doing it. But in today’s market, the agent’s ability to help a seller manage the emotional roller coaster and stress they’re under will be remembered long after the deal is done and numbers forgotten.
Maybe it’s just a reassuring conversation and taking a few extra few minutes to listen, let the seller vent, knowing their voice is heard and feelings recognized. Or a tension breaking laugh at the irony of it all. Maybe just a simple note to say “Thank-You” and how good it is to do business with such a nice person. Make no mistake, there are plenty of little things a Real Estate agent can do to add value and compassion to the seller’s painful process.
Little things? Yes. Big impact? Maybe. Worth the extra effort? Only if you want to seize every opportunity to be the best you can be, doing the things you have control over in this life to help someone struggling emotionally as well as financially!
More than ever, success in Real Estate is about real emotion.