Value and Innovation in Real Estate – Part 1

The following is from my July Monthly Note. Part 2 coming in August via the note. Curious? Sign up here and I’ll send you next month’s note.

To an outsider, real estate practice is confounding,occasionally infuriating, and archaic. Imagine how you’d feel if you were an insider and knew how most of the real estate sausage was made.

Years ago, I represented a seller on a townhouse who somewhat reluctantly hired me. I say “reluctantly” because he knew he needed to sell, thought he could do it himself, but still opted to hire me. In the depths of the recession, we went under contract in under 30 days, and he was shielded from the hiccups that occurred in the transaction – because that buffer of protection is one of the things a professional is hired to do.

When we were at the closing table, I asked him simply, “Was hiring me worth it?” His answer surprised me (although on reflection, it shouldn’t have): “I don’t know. I don’t know because no issues came up in which I was able to adequately evaluate your skillset.”

His not knowing about the hiccups is one of the reasons he hired me, although he didn’t know that at the time. Is there a better way to explain and express to clients what it is that we do? Maybe. Would I, as the client/customer want to be bothered by the minutiae of the transaction? Nope.

Would it be better for the client if I were to detail or track every single step of the transaction? Maybe, but I don’t think so. When hiring a professional, there is an expected level of trust. I don’t ask the nurse how she’s checking my blood pressure, whether the machine is calibrated, or if she’s counting my pulse accurately I trust that she/he knows what she’s doing because she’s a trained professional.

There is foundational trust and then there is earned trust. Many of my clients tell me that when they need an answer, whether it’s “What should I do here?” or “Who should I call?” they “just ask Jim.” That  “just ask Jim” philosophy is valuable, humbling, and something that is a crucial part of being professional.

Part 2 Coming next month: In which I touch on a slack conversation with a friend/client with this premise/question:
One thing we keep coming back to is why some rogue realtor doesn’t go around advertising that they’ll buy/sell for 2.9% instead of 3% and undercut everybody? Is it really just that everyone knows that is a race to the bottom so they don’t do it, or is there something else going on?

Yeah, it was a great and interesting conversation. I suspect we’ll continue it over beer.

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