So, last time we talked about my experience as a seller of my own property. We discussed how buying and selling property yourself is the best opportunity to literally put yourself in your clients’ shoes and use that experience to build your business systems and processes. I mentioned toward the end that I had, for the most part, done a pretty good job of really treating myself like one of my clients. As a buyer, however, I failed miserably at that. When I say miserably, I mean I failed almost every step of the way.
Not treating yourself like you were one of your clients when buying or selling your own real estate is a very real missed opportunity.
To preface this post, more for perspective’s sake than anything else, we built new construction in a new neighborhood. New, meaning that we were the very first buyers in the whole community. Neither of us had built before for ourselves, but as you might know, I worked in the homebuilding industry for many years before getting my real estate license.
To start this at the searching for the home would be to do the story of the buyer an injustice, I think. The root of the issue, really, is why the heck we were moving in the first place. The story went something like we needed more space because we bought the house when we had one kid and now we have two and blah, blah, blah. There were, of course, other reasons that shouldn’t be ignored. I wasn’t sure that there would be a time when we could get more money for our house. I was concerned that the house was getting to an age where expensive stuff was about to break. I knew that there were cosmetic updates that the house would need if we were going to stay and with rates so low it just seemed to make sense to make hay while the sun shined. But, yeah, more space, that’s the story.
A-Hole Realtor Lesson 7: Don’t buy the first thing your buyer tells you. Rarely is there one solo reason for their decision. There are often multiple reasons. Dig a little deeper.
A former associate of mine, who now is a marketing manager at a builder/developer, gave me a tip on a new community coming very near our old home. It sounded perfect. So, when she told us what the plan mix was going to be, we started looking. This is where the story starts to look like a normal client experience.
A-Hole Realtor Lesson 8: Use your sources in the industry for your own benefit. Why not take advantage of your connections? You’d do it for a client.
We found a plan we really liked and it was in a price point we were relatively comfortable with. By relatively comfortable with, I, of course, mean that my wife really liked it and I would be paying for that. Now all we had to do was wait for the development to start selling. Then it happened. We saw the lots and none of them worked for what our long-term plans were. Back to square one. It was a serious letdown. Sound familiar?
A-Hole Realtor Lesson 9: Regardless of market conditions, set expectations with your client that they might be let down during this process. I did not do that. We were let down. It was less than awesome.
So, at this point we were pretty sold on the community. Our kids would get to stay in the same school district and attend brand new schools, it had everything we were looking for, and, at this point, we were pretty set on moving (if for no other reason than we had convinced ourselves that the whole needing more space argument was legit). So, emotionally we were all in. We just had to find the right home for our family. Like I said before, back to square one.
We started looking, again. I was very set on a one-story home. In case you missed it in part one of this story, I didn’t win very often. I say that, of course, as I write this from the comfort of my two-story house. Either way, my wife was happy with one of the plans and I didn’t really care that much. As it turns out, she was probably right as having the kids in their upstairs area is not the worst thing that has ever happened to me.
We got under contract with the builder. We got a very good deal, which, in retrospect, might have actually been the biggest win for me. Now it was time for the design appointments. Did I mention that I lost a lot when it came to the house? The front door. I won that. I got the front door I wanted. Other than that, I smiled and said “okay” a lot.
A-Hole Realtor Lesson 10: Know your decision-maker. Seriously. In case you didn’t pick up on it, that wasn’t me in this case.
Once that was done, I really started to screw things up when it comes to really treating myself like a client. I just fell back on habits, didn’t really include my wife in discussions that didn’t include “it looks so good” and went right back to my former role in the home builder world. I really kept this up all the way to closing.
A-Hole Realtor Lesson 11: Just because you’ve done so many transactions with so many clients, don’t fall back on habit. Treat each one like it was unique.
Looking back, there were a few things I can definitely point to that I would have improved on. The first was the level of communication about the process I had with my wife/client (for the record, not a term of endearment). I should have done a better job keeping her in the loop on what was happening. Second, I should have set some expectations with her. I swear to God, if she had asked me one more time about paint colors, I might have fired her as a client and appointed another one of my agents to handle the crazy buyer. Finally, I should have transferred some of the responsibilities to her. I don’t mean that to be rude or to say that she did nothing, but I did the “Realtor stuff” and I wish I had let her have more of a traditional moving experience to see what that looks and feels like.
A-Hole Realtor Lesson 12: Communication is key. You know that. Make it part of your systems and processes and never waver, not even if it means you have to talk to your wife about stuff. I mean, for the love of God, it could minimize the number of times you have to talk about paint. Don’t even get me started on rugs. Sweet Jesus.
A-Hole Realtor Lesson 13: Don’t move. It really sucks. One of my friends said it is most closely related to the pain of childbirth. Hurts like hell while you’re doing it, but goes away over time. We’ll see about that. Right now, as I still have stuff in storage and in boxes in the garage (don’t judge), it still sucks.
At the end of the day, both transactions went pretty smooth, about as smooth as you could hope. We love the new house, are adjusting to living in a community under construction (honestly, the first week or two were like living in one of those post-apocalyptic TV shows where we were the only survivors), and are really happy.
I definitely learned things that I believe will help me in the future with my business and, quite frankly, with my agents. Not only was this the first time to experience the transaction as my client, but I got a really good opportunity to put myself through the ringer when it came to the decisions I made for my client/self. It’s an interesting look into how agents might treat a client versus how they treat themselves in the same situation. I think it gives us a unique opportunity to really see how our approach with our clients plays out and to improve that in a way that is not only empathetic, but creates a relationship of trust and confidence.
A-Hole Realtor Lesson 13: Don’t be an asshole. You’re better than that.