A few weeks ago I was in New Orleans for a real estate conference. The Northern Virginia real estate market, however, missed the memo that I would be out of town, and so homes came on the market, deals were negotiated, and clients went under contract despite my absence. Luckily I can work from just about anywhere as long as I have internet access and a cell phone. And so I found myself sitting in the Houston airport, waiting for my connecting flight home, working out details on a few different transactions.
On one, we had to arrange for a well and septic inspection on short notice for a client who was relocating to the Northern Virginia area. Ever try to arrange a septic inspection with a over a foot of snow still on the ground? Not very straightforward. Our team hit the phones.
On another, there was a problem with a buyer client’s appraisal — the value was acceptable but underwriting was overruling the value and declining the loan anyway. A real problem for our client, who wanted the condo and had already given notice on her apartment. I combed through my list of lenders looking for options.
There were a half dozen other phone calls about topics I can’t even remember. Nothing extraordinary. Just part of the list of a hundred things that an agent manages between contract and close. There were calls to our team’s client care manager, calls to my partner, calls to an inspector, to several lenders, and then back through another round of calls to coordinate what we had each learned, and finally two 30 second voicemails to clients with the conclusions that it had taken three of us an hour to research.
Finally my flight was boarding and I packed up my electronic paraphernalia. A woman had been working across from me for most of the hour said to me as I got up: “I have a whole new respect for real estate agents after listening to you for the past hour.”
I laughed and mumbled something about ‘all in a day’s work’ and we boarded the plane. And it occurred to me that she had a rare glimpse into the 90% of the workload that our clients don’t see. They see the 10%: the opening of lockboxes, the filling in of blanks in an offer, and me sitting next to them at the settlement table. The tip of the iceberg.
But 90% of an iceberg is underwater and never seen. That’s the 90% that really counts in real estate. The 90% that knows how to work a network to find a loan that will help a client get that condo when the original lender backs out and now it’s a ‘problem loan’; that knows who to call to get a last minute inspection to beat a deadline that an unreasonable seller demanded following a blizzard; that can get a real estate attorney on the phone at 8:00 at night because our response is due by 9:00 and there’s an issue; that knows how to amend the contract to protect our client’s deposit in case a deadline can’t be met. You want an agent that knows the parts that you don’t see — the other 90% of the business.
So I’ve concluded that a good real estate agent is very much like an iceberg. Our clients see the 10%, but a good team knows the other 90% that is behind the scenes, and that’s the part that makes the transaction seamless.
If you want to work with a team that understands the complexity of today’s real estate market, please contact us. We’d love to talk to you about our approach to real estate.