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  • Rob Purnell

The Homeownership Odyssey - Ep. 1

I walked into an Apple store the other day and was immediately struck with that moment of angst as dozens of color-coded Apple employees simultaneously turn to look at me expectantly. It was like a Red Rover gauntlet on an elementary school playground; everybody wearing that anxious "pick me" grimace. I froze for a moment thinking "how do I decide? They all seem so similar."


I imagine that's a bit how people in the housing market feel. Whether a buyer or seller, as soon as you walk through those proverbial doors you have dozens of real estate agents hopping up and down, trying to get your attention with that "pick me" gaze. But unlike the Apple store, the choice you make can have a major impact on your family, your experience, your anxiety, and your wealth.

How do you make a choice? While there are thousands of articles listing simple questions you should ask a Realtor, none of them tell you how to actually evaluate the answers to inform your decision. There are four key elements you should be looking for in a real estate professional:

  1. Client Focus.

  2. Market Knowledge.

  3. Negotiations.

  4. Commitment.

Client focus: For most people buying or selling real estate is a journey with distinct phases. And this journey can last from 3 months to a year or more. Your needs in the research or education phase are quite different from those of the transaction phase. Is the agent asking questions to discern your true needs? Do they offer a buyer or seller consultation to educate you and answer your questions? There is a lot of misinformation and complexity to real estate. The right professional will be your sherpa regardless of where you are in your journey. 


Market Knowledge: This is a deep, multi-layered topic. The critical element is; does the agent have the analytic capacity to identify and understand prevailing market dynamics? And just as important; can they explain them to you in a comprehensible and practical way? A good real estate professional can step into almost any market and quickly master both the quantitative and qualitative information to guide you to your desired goals.


Negotiations: This is also both quantitative and qualitative. What is their negotiating experience? How many deals? What kind and of what complexity? Good negotiating is an art form. The best negotiators are both firm and collaborative. A Khrushchev shoe-banging style may win a few deals but will quickly earn a professional reputation as someone nobody wants to work with.


Commitment: Licensed real estate agents have a fiduciary duty to their clients during a transaction. But the odyssey of homeownership goes well beyond the close of escrow.

For most people real estate is by far their biggest asset. A top real estate professional will help you manage that asset as long as you own it: tracking value, changes to laws and local ordinances, neighborhood developments, or being a one-stop shop for almost any resource you may need to manage and maintain your home. 

So the next time you walk into an open house, or have any conversation with a real estate professional, do they start with "how many bedrooms and baths?" Or do they start with "what are your goals and dreams and how can I help you achieve them?"

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