Many people are aware of protective fences or protective house paint or protective security systems. Is it possible to have a protective real estate professional? Can a real estate professional protect a client from financial disaster, unhealthy environments, souring relationships, possibly divorce, bankruptcy and illness? You bet they can. A real estate professional is no different than a doctor, CPA, financial advisor or attorney when working with people. Any good professional, regardless of their profession, will put their client first and foremost above the needs of anyone else.
Looking back to 2005 one can see how the housing boom that went bust has severely impacted the lives of so many. It has destroyed the hopes, dreams, and finances of people all across the nation. In a country becoming known for pointing fingers and not taking responsibility for one’s own actions, would it seem appropriate to start blaming a real estate professional for the loss of a home, investment or the break-up of a family? In some cases, absolutely. Am I advocating retribution, suing the real estate professional for your losses, pain and suffering? No. After all, who truly would have believed in 2005, or even today after 50% price declines in most markets, that a real estate professional has a crystal ball and can steer their client clear of their house losing value and wrecking havoc on their finances.
No, I’m talking about looking at each client distinctly and trying to understand their true needs, their motivations, their desires, their history and their finances before proceeding with any kind of real estate assistance. Of course, many folks are reluctant to speak to a real estate professional so candidly, not completely understanding why such a person would really take that much time to help guide them through all the risks and rewards of homeownership. Not many people truly understand the risks of real estate including our governmental leaders who try to push their own agenda that everyone should own a home. It’s simply not the best choice for ALL people and the time for them to buy should be right as well.
A Realtor’s function should be to help the client make an intelligent and informed decision that can enrich their lives and protect their livelihoods. Some examples of when a real estate professional is putting their clients above all else:
- Young and newly married: Rather than buying right from saying “I Do” why not rent for a year and see how living together might change the dynamics of what your first home might entail. It would also give you both a chance to settle into your marriage and keep the stress of homeownership responsibilities to a minimum. Marriage bliss before home bliss is still a good thing!
- Recent job change: Not only is underwriting more difficult, but would a job transfer to either a new city or not make sense to buy now? What about waiting for 6 months to determine if the job will workout? Jobs are scarce and what’s the fallback if things don’t go as planned. Even homesickness can set in and the new home is back on the market costing the owner thousands in closing costs.
- Investment property: Will the property cash flow? Does this client have the bandwidth to manage the hassles of tenants, repairs, etc.? Would a property manager be appropriate and could the cost be covered? Is the client looking for price appreciation to justify the investment? Are they diversified? Have they spoken to a CPA or financial advisor?
- Older couple: Is paying with all cash a smart investment? What about low interest rate financing – which can be the cheapest money available, so why put so much of your net worth in one basket? Sure, having no mortgage payment is an ideal goal but is it truly the best way to own? What are their saving habits, income? Do they have the wherewithal to weather major illnesses, expensive care, or the passing of a spouse? Such circumstances could force a sudden sale amidst poor market conditions. Of course, no one really knows when they will die but it seems appropriate to ask these questions of older clients and see how they respond.
- Single: Are they lured by the “dream” of homeownership and sick of apartment living with noisy neighbors and no place to put their stuff? Do they plan on staying single or is being open to marriage in the cards? What about losing some freedom to go almost at will and not be tied down to something that keeps you more locked in than a one year rental agreement?
It comes down to evaluating the clients’ personal situation and helping to guide them through the largest, most intricate buying experience of their lives. Stay away from real estate professionals that don’t ask the tough questions or just want to jump in the car to show you properties. Would you see a doctor that hasn’t asked for your family health history or an attorney who doesn’t advice you on the risks of settling a lawsuit versus going to court? I think not. Be sure your real estate professional is trying to protect you!
About the Author:
Doug Hus is an 11-year real estate veteran with a keen eye for identifying market opportunities/trends and keeping his clients informed. He is the broker of record for Capital Valley Realty Group, Inc. located in El Dorado Hills, CA., a company that has been ranked # 22 residential real estate firm in the Greater Sacramento Region by the Sacramento Business Journal the last two years. For more information visit www.capitalvalleyrealty.com.