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High Tension for the Buyer and Seller of Real Estate Can Be Reduced
Tensions can run high in both the selling and buying of real estate. After all, there is a lot of money and emotion involved! There are also time pressures and numerous privacy issues to deal with. The sale and purchase of real estate can be a lengthy process involving numerous professionals from many fields.
The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University asked 3,000 Texas home buyers to describe their recent purchase, about 400 replied. Their responses showed how stressful buying a home can be, for buyers and sellers. The Realtors and attorneys who try to keep all tensions at bay in order to complete the transaction also feel the burdens of stress!
"The process is grueling in the best of circumstances, and the severe sellers' market of recent times only increased the stress," says Dr. Jack C. Harris, Center research economist. "In conjunction with Lawyers Title Company, the Real Estate Center asked recent home buyers about their buying experience and what changes they think would make the process more buyer friendly." (quote from Real Estate News Information Service Feb. 24, 2001)
The final question on the survey was, "If you could change anything about the home buying process, what would that be?" Almost a third answered the question, and most of them expressed dissatisfaction about some phase of the process.
Understandably some of the complaints were about circumstances beyond anyone's control. This included high prices, interest rates, the lack of listings in a specific area, where they wanted to buy, etc.
However, all of us Realtors can learn much from some of the things that WE can, and should, do something about. Many of the folks surveyed felt that the Realtor did not perform up to their expectations. They were especially miffed when the Realtor assumed too much, that they understood what was going on, and didn't keep them well enough informed. In such a pressure cooker of financial and time constraints, the unfamiliar territory of buying and selling a property can be nerve wracking!
Many buyers and sellers need to be reassured and comforted. It is sometimes hard for the Realtor to know which of the dozens or even hundreds of people they are working with at one time need the most attention. Some of the Realtors' clients felt the agent did not take enough time with them. This was true even for some buyers who had a Buyer's Agent under contract to work on their behalf alone.
We Realtors should alert and educate our clients, whether they be sellers or buyers, to the complexities and details of the real estate transaction. Some buyers feel that they are rushed through the looking, choosing, buying and settling process, and sometimes they are.
More and more buyers, especially the most savvy ones, are using Buyer's Agents. When there is a Buyer's Agency Agreement signed, most buyers expect far more service. Some feel that they don't always get it. In fact, according to the survey, 70% of those who had a Buyer's Agent wanted even more care, concern and service from their agent than they felt they had received.
The sellers, too, felt they had received too little service, care and attention in many cases, for the commission involved. Some seller's felt that the selling agent was not responsive enough to them, that calls were not returned promptly enough, or that not enough assurance, information, concern and communication was forthcoming from their agent.
Even though it is legally the seller who pays the Real Estate commission, it is really part of the overall transaction. Many buyers feel that they are the ones who are really paying that commission. They feel that the several thousand dollar commission is just tacked onto the selling price by the seller and thus it is they, the buyer, who is ultimately paying more for the property than they should! Buyers often feel that sellers inflate home prices to recover the cost of the commission.
Some purchasers want more contact with the sellers of the property; before, during and after they decide on the property and place a contract on it. Many wanted to develop a relationship with the seller of the property and have direct communication with them between the time of the contract and the settlement. Some felt that an agreement would have been more easily arrived at if the sellers and buyers could have hammered out details in person.
Other buyers had met with the sellers and considered that it had been the biggest error of the entire process. Most folks felt that the insulation of the Realtor(s), keeping the sellers and buyers apart and in communication only via written offers and changes to the contract was appropriate as it gave them the advantage of advice and discussion with their Realtor and time to think and discuss things before responding.
A huge part of the work and value that a Realtor or all the Realtors involved bring to the transaction is the mediation, conflict resolution, refereeing and monitoring of communications between buyer and seller. Often that is a huge and difficult task. Sometimes it is just too monumental to achieve satisfaction on the part of their client. Often it is those clients who are most difficult to work with that are the least satisfied with their Realtor. That is all part of the job we do. We do our best, from our own viewpoint, we try to satisfy the personality of our clients, and usually that is well appreciated!
After all, the natural flavor of a buying and selling transaction is adversarial. The Realtor is like a Gladiator in most cases; going to battle, in an honorable way and according to the rules, on behalf of their backer -- their client. There are many behind-the-scenes conflicts on behalf of clients that never are divulged and shouldn't be. It is the duty of the Realtor to put all parts of the transaction in the best, although truthful, light possible. A Realtor who transfers the natural adversarial animosities between buyer and seller does a disservice to his client no matter which side of the transaction is being represented.
Most buyers and sellers comments on the survey evidenced the importance and value of the agent in the transaction process. However, it is important that all of us Realtors learn from our buyers and sellers, especially to responses they give about our profession when they are being surveyed on our service.
Nearly every week in our office, at Long and Foster Realtors, Rehoboth Beach, our manager reads one or more glowing comment letters from our thankful, satisfied and sometimes elated clients and customers. In fact, Kate was the overall Service Award Winner for the entire year of 1999.
From the survey results of the Texas A&M University, we as Realtors, are well advised to learn that respondents praised especially helpful agents. It is reasonable to assume the majority who wrote nothing when asked to comment on any dissatisfaction, on this anonymous survey, were well satisfied with the service they received from their Realtor(s).
"We had a great experience," wrote one buyer. "The agent made all the difference. She kept us well informed almost daily. This was so important to us." While a majority of survey respondents had no comment regarding agents, 85% said they would use or recommend the agent again. (paragraph taken from Real Estate News Information Service Feb. 24, 2001)
According to the survey report, complaints about the complexity of the home buying process fell into one of three categories: too complicated, too time-consuming or too costly. Many felt the process involved too much paperwork. Undoubtedly, they were reacting to the numerous, lengthy legal forms they had to sign before, during and after the contracting of the property as well as the seemingly almost unconfrontable stack of documents requiring a signature at closing.
It can take a terrific amount of time to find and buy a home. We often work with buyers for months seeking the right home. Some of them we've been working with, staying in touch with, and showing properties to -- for years. Those with some particular interests may find that a "possible" choice for them might only come on the market once in a great while! It is not an easy or comfortable situation for anyone involved, but the finding and buying or selling of a home or property can be made a MUCH more comfortable process with open, full and honest communication between the agent and the client at all times.
Many of our sellers would like us to find a buyer in a week or less for their property. Interestingly enough, it is often the property that is most difficult to find a buyer for that has the most impatient seller.
Even after a property is chosen by a buyer, there is a lot of time and work still needed from all those involved. The time, the continued negotiations, the inspections, reports, and evaluations needed, all the calls and appointments that need to be made on behalf of all parties involved almost always take far more time than anyone not directly involved can realize. This is usually frustrating to everyone. The sellers as well as the buyers often feel they are stuck in quicksand, unable to move or do anything without sinking further into the mire. At the same time -- that same quicksand of details required to complete the transaction seems at times to be filled with alligators ready to bite and take them down anyway. In some ways, that is all too true. And, it is the duty of all the Realtors involved to keep our clients and customers as comfortable as possible during these trying times of details and difficulties.
The Realtor usually spends a good deal of time trying to manage the lender(s) and get the money required to bring the deal to closing. Often this is the most difficult part of the transaction, even when the buyers and sellers are easy to work with. Usually, the first contact with a lender is all roses and sunshine. All too often however, the clouds and thorns of problems are soon evident. We Realtors are often fully employed trying to get all the requirements fulfilled for the lender and the purchaser and when those are complete we work to make certain the promised funds are still available, approved and ready for closing, ON TIME.
At the closing, there is another 2% to 3% or, in some few cases, even more of the purchase price involved at closing for each the buyer and the seller. The long list of expensive items often seems too costly to both the buyer and the seller. Some folks find this irritating and feel it to be unfair. Some wonder why there are so many fees and services that find their way to the settlement table and may wonder if the fees and services were even necessary.
The myriad details involved with the finding, selecting, negotiating, contracting and transferring of ownership and funds at final settlement is time consuming, detailed, and often challenging.
People are accustomed to buying most things instantaneously and getting instant gratification for their decisions. Especially for those of us who use the Internet a lot. In a recent survey it was shown that most people who purchase via the Internet want the purchase delivered to them via overnight service. Although Kate and I do most of our promotion, marketing and communications via the speedy Internet -- we are not usually able to deliver the completed sale in less than a month or two.
Many (let's be more honest and blunt) actually MOST buyers do not appreciate the legal complexities of taking title to real estate. They most often, simply do not understand why it should be so complicated to buy a piece of land or a home, nor do they understand the complexities of getting them approved for the best rate and terms in the mortgage obligation -- even if they have done it before.
The real estate industry has made great and consistent accomplishments in speeding up the entire buying process; from searching via the Web to getting mortgage approvals in sometimes an hour (as is the usual case with our in-house broker). Even title searches, lien searches, judgment searches and the typing of the dozens of pages of legal documentation has been streamlined with modern devices and techniques. However, there is another bundle of issues that slow the process while the aforementioned have sped it up. The litigious society we live in, the relatively recent and growing list of written disclosure requirements and legal contingencies have adversely affected the time and ease involved. It has limited the progress and speed of the individual parts of the transaction steps at nearly every point.
We, as Real Estate Professionals should, in fact we must, pay special attention and take special care in helping buyers and sellers understand what is going on at each step of the selling and purchasing process. We need to make it clear why the various expenses incurred at closing are ordinary and necessary. We need to alert our clients and customers to the potential consequences of each place where they can be financially and legally harmed or put at risk by cutting corners. We do our best!
Based on every available survey, it is evident that the Internet is growing and soon to be of utmost importance to buyers searching for a home. For the month of January, 2001 a review of 37 major search engines showed that Real Estate related searching and use was the third major use of the Internet, world wide. In America, it was second except for a temporary flurry of interest in searching for information on digital cameras which barely put it in third place here also.
The Internet is, however, not the only factor in the overall search. At price ranges of $300,000 and more; about 90% of the first contacts are to a Realtor with an attractive, informative, workable and fast acting Web site. As the price of the home descends, the percentage of buyers using the Web decreases. For homes under $100,000, only about 25% of our personal response is a result of our Web site presence and expertise.
Simultaneously, fewer Realtors instead of more, are finding the Web useful according to our recent survey. The reason is obvious to some of us; most users want sites to be far more informative, more private, and want the sites to have a lot more content. They want more pictures, better descriptions, related sales, crime reports, etc. Some of these things are not even available yet for our market area but the buyers still want them. People would like to rule out those homes they are not interested in before they even contact a Realtor in most cases -- especially for the more expensive properties.
Users want the sites to come up faster and to be more intuitive of their interests and needs. People are also reluctant to show what they don't know as it makes them feel vulnerable. Thus we try to have lots of data on our site so the sellers and buyers can educate themselves before they contact a Realtor; hopefully us!
Some clients seem to realize and appreciate that Realtors are also dependent on other professionals to make the home buying transaction go more safely, more legally proper and in all ways more smoothly. Buyers do expect the agent to keep them informed about progress and to effectively, quickly and professionally handle any obstacles to their goals and purposes in the transaction.
The entire process of selling and or buying a property, especially a home, can be nerve wracking and full of tension for everyone concerned. Some problems are unavoidable, some are unpredictable, some are created out of nothing by some party to the transaction. Many problems can be resolved or avoided if the sales agent provides information, reassurance and support to the buyer.
In the final analysis, it is up to you, the buyer or the seller to be the "squeaky wheel in need of oil" and call, write, e-mail and otherwise let your Realtor know immediately when you feel needy of more communication, care, solace or help. Our job is about 98% invisible to our customers and clients. Even when we tell everyone what we are doing, it is almost always hard for them to believe the time it takes for what seems, to them, a simple task. We usually have a few dozen customers and clients at any one time that we are trying to service as if they were the only person in our professional lives.
If you are our customer or client, PLEASE let us know any time you need us! Simultaneously, we will attempt to anticipate your every need and difficulty and be working on solutions before you even tell us. We are partners in this profession with our customers and clients, and the success of every partnership is open and honest communication!
Now, please let us know how we can be of more service to you!
Copyright 2000-2005 by www.JodyHudson.com
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