Have you thought about how much of your job involves being a real estate educator?
Unless you’re working with experienced investors, education is a large part of what your clients need from you.
It may also play a large part in your success as a real estate agent.
Your clients might not say it, because they might not realize it, but they do need to be educated. Even people who have purchased and sold a home or two in the past need some education, simply because things change so quickly.
When I started in real estate in 1985, both the listing agreement and the purchase and sale agreement were one page – legal size. There was fine print on the back – and it was fine print. Really fine. But that didn’t matter, because no one read it.
We didn’t have to explain disclosure forms because there were none. We didn’t have to explain agency because at that point, everyone “represented the seller.” (Not that they always acted like it, but that was the law.)
When disclosure forms came on the scene my then-broker went on rants, saying they would cause lawsuits. Of course, they do – but only if sellers choose to be less than honest when filling out the forms.
Since then, more pages filled with regulations and stipulations have been added, and buyers or sellers who don’t read them are apt to get themselves in trouble. The last few years I was licensed, it seemed a new paragraph or two was added every year.
Buyers and sellers need to know what they’re signing – and why. It’s your job to teach them.
As tedious as it may be, you need to make sure they understand every paragraph.
A true story…
I recall a transaction in which the seller submitted a counter offer and the buyer said he wanted a few days to talk it over with his wife. The counter-offer form clearly stated that until the counter offer was signed, and unless it was signed by a specific date, the seller had the right to accept other offers. Apparently his agent didn’t make sure he read and understood that paragraph.
When our seller DID accept a different offer, the “gentleman” threatened to sue. Thankfully, he had signed to acknowledge receipt of the counter-offer.
I would have called this a sad story, but that man was so obnoxious that we were all glad to see the last of him in our office. It was bad enough that he was on the City Council.
What else do sellers need to know?
Sellers need real estate education about:
- how to choose the right price
- how to prepare the house for market
- why they need to vacate when the house is shown
- how to determine which is the best offer when there are multiples
- how to negotiate the best price and terms
- how to react if an inspector finds problems
- …and a whole lot more
Unless you educate them on these issues, your listings may well go unsold.
What else do buyers need to know?
That all depends upon their situation. First time buyers need you as a real estate educator more than those who have purchased in the past.
First time buyers need to know about getting ready to buy; preparing for a meeting with their lender; and safeguarding their credit. They need to be educated about your current market – and right now they need to know the futility of making low-ball offers.
They need to be warned about doing things that would change their debt-to-income ratios and/or credit scores, and I think that is something you can’t repeat often enough.
Unless you provide the education they need, they may never get to purchase a home.
Another true story – this one was sad
My brokerage once had would-buyers who had tried repeatedly to buy a home. Each time the sellers insisted on a price higher than the appraisal, so the transactions died. Finally, they were under contract, the appraisal was fine, and they were set to close within the week. Their lender was jubilant.
They buyers were thrilled. And so, to celebrate, they went out and bought a brand new, shiny red Jeep. I guess you know how that story ended.
Common sense, but…
You’d think it would just be common sense, but buyers need advice on things like choosing the location before they choose a house. They need to be reminded not to spend the maximum that a lender will allow, and to think ahead about how their housing needs might change in the next few years.
Of course, there’s more.
In 2021, buyers need yet another warning…
That is to keep their thoughts to themselves when touring homes. Many homes now have cameras to record what goes on both inside and outside. Some ALSO have audio recording devices. It may or may not be legal in your state, but that won’t matter when it comes time to negotiate. If the sellers have heard the buyers saying something like “I’d pay MORE than asking price for this home,” then any chance of negotiating a lower price is gone.
As a real estate educator, one of your jobs is to protect your clients from themselves.
Many people today feel compelled to share their lives on Facebook and other social media sites. You need to keep reminding them that talking about what they would pay or accept on a house is self-destructive.
It can be difficult to say everything in person…
So why not begin to educate your future clients even before you get started. You can – by sending informational prospecting letters.
These letters offer the advice they need in “small bites” so they have time to digest what you’re telling them before moving on to the next topic. They also prompt your future clients to think, so when you ask related questions, they may have better answers. If they become clients before they’ve had the opportunity to read all of the letters, you can use the content in hand-outs that you give them in person.
You can also include instructive pages on your website, the follow up with discussions.
I know – you can’t educate everyone.
Some buyers and sellers are sure that they know more than you do – and that the advice they get from Cousin Clyde (who sold real estate for a few months in 1985) is better than yours. You can’t help them – and you may be better off letting go of them.
For the rest, the better you are at being a real estate educator, the more transactions you’ll close. And… the more they’ll love you, listen to you, and refer others to you.
Buyers getting keys Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Angry man courtesy of imagerymajestic. at freedigitalphotos.net