RTRE 57 – Keeping the Real Estate Transaction Under Control

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This week we discuss how to keep a real estate transaction moving forward. Listen in to hear ways to keep a real estate transaction on track to closing.

Rethink Real Estate Podcast Transcription

Audio length 30:43

RTRE 57 –  Keeping the Real Estate Transaction Under Control

[music] [Chris] Welcome to re:Think Real Estate, your educational and hopefully entertaining source for all things real estate, business, news and tech. 

[Christian]: I am Christian Harris in Seattle, Washington.

[Nathan]: Hi, I am Nathan White in Columbus, Ohio.

[Chris]: And I am Chris Lazarus in Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks for tuning in. 

[music] [Chris]: Hey everybody and welcome back to re:Think Real Estate. We’re so happy to have you here this week. We’ve got Nate back. He is not selling homes right now. We’ve got Christian here and as always here to talk real estate and all thing real estate related. So just before getting started we were talking about how agents can control the transaction better and make deals go smoothly for our clients. Nate you are always taking listings. What are some things that you are doing to make sure that you are on top of the transaction?

[Nathan]: Well again I was start thinking about this a little bit more before we got to recording here but I…again I think you as an individual…we all have different types of personalities but it also setting an expectation to our client. Right. Whether you are the list side or the buy side but you have to set that tone up front. 

I am a little bit of a controller. Actually a lot but I like to control the situation. You have to have confidence and knowledge in what you’re doing to do all that but that is the way I operate. Most of my clients appreciate that. And the reason I brought this us is because I have got a buddy I met the other day. He is a lender and another lender he knew was taking a beating because unfortunately buyers are liars and this buyers agent is calling and is literally in Ethany [phonetics] and all over the phone. And you know at a certain point you gotta tell a client you know whether you’re the agent or you are the agent or the client and your client is the buyer or lister, you gotta have control over the certain things you can’t do. 

For that lender the agent was his client, I would have fired him. I wouldn’t have taken that you know, it is just the way it goes. Same thing, I don’t tolerate certain things from my clients. I mean we call it respect. You know a lot of people like to whine in our business but it is OK to lose a client. It is OK not to get every client. And I think we often forget that. It is kind of one of that win at all cost mentality maybe. I don’t like that.

[Chris]: And I think if you are winning at all cost you are not factoring in what makes this industry fun, it is being able to enjoy it.

[Nathan]: Yeah.

[Chris]: So obviously yeah I mean I feel like you are at the point in your career where yeah you can choose and have the option to fire your clients. But why was it…why do you think it got to that point in the transaction where the agent was calling and cursing at the lender?

[Nathan]: Again, you know, I have said this before in our podcast. We want to be emotional. And I have always…I think the best thing I was ever taught when I got in this industry is to take my emotion out of it.

[Chris]: Amen to that.

[Nathan]: We realtors…You know I am gonna beat us up but as I have said the large majority we just love to feel so important, right? We love to know that “Hey look at me, hey look at me. I am an awesome, awesome relator. I am an awesome realtor”. Like…

[Chris]: “Let me tell you about me. Let me tell you about me. It is all about me. Really what do you think about me”. 

[Nathan]: Yeah. And so take the emotion out of it. You know, I don’t know.

[Christian]: Why do you…why do you suppose…I mean I have my thoughts on this. Why do you suppose he thought it was acceptable and call the lender and cuss him out and get all emotional about it?

[Nathan]: Well the guy is an [censored] [laughter]. If he were listening, that is what I would tell him. Right. 

[Christian]: OK. 

[Nathan]: Bottom line is whether we are in realty or not you don’t treat other people that way. Like you know…

[Christian]: Why…

[Nathan]: Yeah why did he treat somebody that way? Probably because he had really bad parents I don’t know. [laughter].

[Christian]: Yeah I mean…

[Chris]: A lot of people don’t think about other people as actual beings. Human. I think that si the problem.

[Christian]: I mean and I am on that. Obviously treat people as humans. Treat them with respect. But you know when it comes to like being professional in this industry I mean there is a lot of things that I like to push back on in industry like you know our job is to be the rock when our clients are emotional and deals you know on the brink of falling apart. I mean if we get emotional I mean I don’t know any of you…I mean I know you guys have kids. I know that when I am near my kid’s emotions and he is getting all ramped up and I am ramped up, that doesn’t help.

[Chris]: That makes it worse.

[Christian]: Worse. But I mean if I can be a consistent calm and I am able to bring it back down to like “OK let’s look at the reality of things if you know…” But I think a lot of agents kind of lose their cool because they think “I am advocating for my client. I am passionate when I am doing my job”. No no you are just being a [censored] and you are [censored] things up for your client. 

[Nathan]: Yeah well said.

[Chris]: So that gets to a great point on helping to control the conversation to control the transaction. Is controlling emotion.

[Christian]: Definitely.

[Chris]: Because if we can control our emotion and understand that when we are interacting with a client it is a very…they are in a heightened state of emotion. Right. Buying a…Buying a real estate parcel, right a house or a commercial or whatever it is, is extremely stressful for people because they have a lot invested in it. It is a lot of money. It is a big transaction. 

So if something bad happens they are gonna think it is the worst thing in the world even if it is just you know a small hiccup. If something miniscule like good happens they are gonna think it is the best thing in the world. So if we can just kind of maintain a level of neither good nor bad on the emotional scale than holy hell like that really can do exactly what it does for your kid Christian. It is just like calm. When something bad goes on don’t worry. Got it under control. 

[Nathan]: I…you know I wasn’t here the last episode we recorded because I had a deal going sideways. Even my client’s father flew in from Boston. He was…

[Chris]: To help the deal or to ruin the deal. 

[Nathan]: Well at first I thought was honestly he was gonna ruin it. He was very emotional. It was his son’s house. It is you know a lot of things going sideways on this. 

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Nathan]: And you know he called me “What are we gonna do?”. And now we’re just [inaudible] we’re great. We’re good buddies now. But I said “We’re gonna work the problem.” “What do you mean?” I said “We’re gonna work the problem. Work the problem”. I mean we get…this is 3 days of craziness in my life here recently. And he called me and said “Man I gotta tell you kept your cool.” Yeah I did because me getting upset is exactly what Christian said. It is just gonna make everybody else upset. 

.So I am..I am like the captain of the ship right. If I am freaking out everybody else is freaking out. I am you know…It was not fun. But we got through it. And now here is a gentleman that like he is my biggest advocate that I could possibly have now. But I think if I would have reacted the way he was initially reacting it was gonna be really, really bad 3 days for me. And it turned out an Ok 3 days, you know what I mean.

[Chris]: Yeah you gotta control that.

[Nathan]: Yeah.

[Chris]: That is definitely one thing that agents can do in a transaction to kind of control the tone, control the pace. It is just control our own emotions because whether you want to believe it or not people are gonna mimic you. That is just how it happens. So obviously in the deal that you mentioned Nate the agent got upset with the lender. Obviously something at some point was not communicated clearly. Because if the lender had all the information and the agent had all the information and the buyer was given all the information than usually…I don’t see a circumstance where somebody is gonna yell at somebody. Christian…

[Christian]: It sounds like there is an unmet expectation there. I don’t know.

[Chris]: Yeah it sounds like it. So Christian when you are working with a buyer and you’ve got all these different wheels that are moving more so than with the seller, what are some things that you are doing to set expectation with people?

[Christian]: Yeah I mean I say setting expectations specifically but communication in general that is probably the most important thing you can do as a real estate agent.

[Chris]: I agree.

[Nathan]: Yeah.

[Christian]: Because you can be a terrible agent and totally incompetent but if you can communicate well you look like you’re doing your job. You know now whether or not you do the back end and actually have knowledge and stuff that is all a different thing but you can be a rock star agent and know exactly what you’re going but if your communication sucks your agent is gonna think you suck.

[Chris]: It is like you’re up on a show. You’ve got the curtain right and the clients are seeing what is in front not what is behind.

[Christian]: right. And so that is a long answer to basically say I am mister kind of control freak I have got processes for everything. And part of the process is this template email as part of my CRM and first thing we do “Hey we are under contract. OK here is the 5 things you are gonna expect, here is what comes next, here is what we’re gonna be doing for you in the next 3 days. Here is what you are gonna be doing”. You know. And after we get past our expectance commencing here is what it is gonna look like. 

You know now that is not the only communication but that is like it sets the expectations up front you know because you get a contract and now there is a whole bunch of stuff going on and now they’re stressing out. You know I can’t be on the phone with them every 10 minutes you know and call them off the ledge. But if you set these expectations and say “This is what happens and this is what we’re doing.” And you know checking in with them whenever there is a new bench mark. That has a calming effect you know on them as opposed to they don’t hear anything.

[Nathan]: Oh yeah you don’t have to do a lot. I mean I send out Friday updates. That is what I call it. Friday updates. Every Friday I touch my clients no matter where we are. Just to give them something right. But I mean Christian you hit…all your points were spot on. Maybe you should just have the Christian Harris school of mentoring real estate agents [laughter]. All people can learn from that.

[Chris]: Definitely.

[Nathan]: You know communication is key. So…I am with you on that one. I am seeing great agents who know everything very well but they are horrible communicators.

[Christian]: And to your point Nathan I mean, part of that communication is even if nothing is going on once a week touching in. I do my touching on Monday because typically like if you are working on a listing that is when it is going to be the most information that we can pass. So I do my updates on Mondays. The point is going on “Hey there is nothing going on and I just want you to know so that you are not wondering what is going on”.  

[Chris]: Yeah for both of you to reach out and tell somebody nothing has changed, is one of the key differentiators that I have seen for people who are successful  and who are not. Because if you are having that communication level when nothing is happening they know “Oh OK nothing is happening but I am not hearing silence”. Because it is when the seller or the buyer, they hear silence that is when they get in their own head. And they start thinking “Well is this agent really doing things in my best interest. Are they really working on my behalf”.

[Christian]: You have to interfere with the doubt and the emotions kind of you know.

[Chris]: It comes in the silence. Exactly. Awesome so we’re getting about halfway through the episode right now. I want to…we are trying out a new segment called re:Think Realty bonus thoughts where we have a topic to discuss that none of us have seen before. We’re just pulling it out of an envelope. So this one is “Things seen in houses.” I am really not sure. I guess we’re just supposed to talk about things that we have seen in houses. Things like “Where is Waldo”. Print frames. Eye level in the bathroom. Things like that. Blurred out dog face on a listing photo.

[Christian]: So like funny or unique things that we have seen? Is that like…

[Chris]: Yeah what are some unique things that you have seen in homes that you have listed?

[Christian]: I have seen atrocious staging and unfortunately it was one of my first listings when I was trying out a stager so…

[Chris]: Was it really?

[Christian]: I had to fire that stager and the stager I use now was the person that came in like 2 days noticed and saved the day. But yeah I have seen that. I have noticed that you want to make sure you have a local stager. Here in Seattle we’ve got a couple of…Well we’ve got a lot of island like 107 islands. And one of the…I had a friend who had a mom who does staging so I gave her a hot but she was from one of the islands and she came over and did it and her idea of staging was weaker in floral prints. And it made it look like a grandma’s house and it was not gonna fly in Seattle.

[Chris]: Wow.

[Christian]: That is unfortunately that was kind of my fault but that was something I have seen that was atrocious and made sure it didn’t get to the listing photos and that was a learning experience. [crosstalk]. I am sorry?

[Chris]: What do you got Nate? What is something you have seen in a house?

[Nathan]: Guns. [laughter] [Christian]: Alright.

[Nathan]: No, yeah I mean like literally guns just laying out around the house.

[Chris]: Oh yeah I have seen that.

[Nathan]: Like hand guns and rifles. And magazines in the club. I love guns don’t get me wrong but I have got clients who have a kid with me and I am like “Holy snap” like you know what’s going on. Like…

[Christian]: That is a different world in Ohio I guess.

[Chris]: It is not just Ohio we’ve got that in Georgia too. I have walked through homes and opened up a closet and boom there is a shotgun just sitting right there. 

[Nathan]: That is…the oddest…[crosstalk] [Chris]: Yeah so one of the oddest things that I have ever seen in a home is in a basement they…put in multiple urinals in a restroom. 

[Christian]: Like a restroom?

[Chris]: Like a bathroom but then they…When they finished the basement they made it like a big bathroom with like 3 urinals but no divider. Really, really weird I have no idea why.

[Christian]: Were they having like a fight club in the basement? 

[Chris]: Yeah yeah it was really weird. I ended up not getting that listing. Because I don’t think he liked what I said about marketing that.

[Nathan]: Have you guys ever been in a home where they have pad locks on all the doors on the exterior like on a bedroom?

[Chris]: I have seen that one.

[Christian]: That is creepy as hell. 

[Nathan]: I saw that a few weeks ago and I was like “That is really weird”. 

[Chris]: Yeah. 

[Christian]: I wouldn’t want to know what they do.

[Chris]: You are either doing some child abuse there or you just got a lot of guns in that room.

[Christian]: It’s sketchy.

[Chris]: Whatever it is. Yeah it is in the living room [laughter]. “You are not getting into my living room. This is mine”. It could be like one of those…Did you all see the listing that it was making the rounds on a few weeks ago, the sex dungeon in the basement?

[Nathan]: Awesome.

[Chris]: Yeah I mean just things like that. 

[Christian]: Yeah like the brokerage had some pretty fun stuff, the lighter side of real estate had some pretty funny things like that. 

[Chris]: Yeah definitely the things that they come up with that is absolute hilarity. I can’t believe that you know when Kellen [phonetics] when he did his deal to our show got picked up by lighter Real Estate. It was…

[Christian]: That was awesome.

[Chris]: It was in one of the shows. OK so yeah re:Think Real Estate bonus thoughts. Giving it a shot. Tell us what you think. Make sure you leave us a review on iTunes for anybody listening. I…shoot us a comment either on our Facebook page or on the website on rtrepodcast.com. 

So back to today’s topic which was the agent’s control of the transaction. Where they can make a big impact. Nate what is one of the most impactful things that you find you are able to do for your clients outside of communication and setting expectations?

[Nathan]: I don’t know. This…I mean it sounds weird but just being upfront and honest. I feel like…I feel like there are so many agents that just are not forthcoming. Do you know what I mean?

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Nathan]: Again it is the win at all cost or lie at all cost just to get the listing. I mean I just went on a listing in an apartment a couple of weeks ago and she walked me up in the room and she said “Nate what do you think about this room”. I started to laugh and she said “What is funny?” And I said “This is a [censored] ugly room”. 

And that is all [laughter] I said all these things in here and in the bathroom too and she starts laughing and I say “What is so funny Jane?” And she says “I have had 3 other agents in here and none of them have had the balls to tell me what I already knew.” [laughter]. She said “I love that you already told me that it is ugly”. She said “I know it is ugly but everybody else says this is gorgeous, this is lovely, we will do this to make it look like this”. She is like “It is an ugly room. Why won’t somebody just tell me the truth?” And I told her the truth and guess who got the listing? 

[Chris]: There you go. There you go.

[Nathan]: Tell the truth. If they don’t like the truth than they will hire somebody else that will tell them whatever lie they want to hear.

[Chris]: And if you feel like you’re not up to telling somebody “This is a [censored] ugly room”. You don’t have to say it like that. 

[Christian]: You can be more diplomatic to be honest.

[Chris]: Yeah be more diplomatic.

[Christian]: That is not Nate’s style.

[Nathan]: That is not my style lets be honest.

[Chris]: Just so that our audience knows. You don’t have to do it Nate’s way. You can tell somebody “No this room may not be up to the aesthetics as the rest of the house. We probably won’t focus our marketing efforts on this room”.

[Christian]: Or “You can burn this room down”. Or something like that.

[Chris]: Yeah. Or “We could put up some fumigation label outside so nobody comes in”. Whatever it may be, but yeah on that line with honestly I think one thing agents have sometimes gotten self-caught up in is when they find something that they don’t know they will try and [censored] their way out of it. Instead of saying “I don’t know, let me get you the answer. We will make sure that we do this the right way”. 

And people feel like you know winning at all cost they want to feel like the expert they always want to be in the expert shoes, they don’t want to step back and admit you know, “There might be something I don’t know here”. You know that is kind of one thing that I think goes a long way in controlling the transaction is don’t be afraid to admit where there is something that you haven’t dealt with. That is why it is important to have a good team unless you are Nate. In which case you are solo. 

But if you’ve got a good team or resources or you know even friends and people that you respect in the industry and people that you can reach out to as long as they’re you know you are following your broker’s direction, you are making sure that everything is legal and ethical. I don’t think we have to cover that at this stage in the game. 

But yeah just making sure that where your shortcoming are you are not [censored] through them. Christian what do you think are some things that you now can help control the situation a little bit more throughout the transaction especially due diligence, getting into financing and getting up to the posing table?

[Christian]: Sure so I mean there is obviously like a minimum standard of what an agent has to do. I am more like how much can I do to help an agent. You know. So for us you know I mean like we all know that is…you know good buyers. You know it is the buyers responsibility as part of their…you know once they get a contract and they’re talking to a lender and get all the documents they need and stuff. They need to reach to interns company and get a policy in place and that kind of stuff. 

But like that is not really on our shoulders but I still make it a point to you know a day or 2 after to send out an email and say “Hey this is a reminder, these is the things that you need to do. Make sure you get your lenders documents at town manor, make sure you get a quote on home insurance because they can’t hold an appraisal before you do”. You know just stuff that is not necessarily in my ball part but it helps them know that, like “These are things that you need to do as part of the process”. 

[Chris]: Yeah and going an extra mile is huge. We’ve got a lot of good feedback ever since we started implementing move easy, which ties into our transaction management system. So move easy when our agents mark that their client is under contract they get this digital check list and resource bank that tells them everything that they need to do during the move from “Don’t forget to order your moving supplies, don’t forget to line up your child care, you’re getting all your pet immunizations” whatever it might be. We put all of it in a checklist and our agents…our clients seem to love it. For those that take advantage of it.

[Christian]: And that as I recall it is free for agents right?

[Chris]: Well it has to be set up on a brokerage level but yes it is free.

[Christian]: So talk to your broker about setting it up for you. Or if you do something like client giant you know per agent they do kind of that concierge. They take care of all your utilities and that is helpful too.

[Chris]: That’s awesome yeah. And that was Jay O’Brien [phonetics] we had him on last year. Definitely a great episode to go and listen to about providing what was it 7 start service in a 3 start industry?

[Christian]: Yes. 5 start service and 3 star…7 start…

[Nathan]: 7 star…

[Chris]: 7 star in a 3 star.

[Christian]: It’s a good…

[Chris]: Yeah it’s a good one. He’s a really good person to listen to as well. 

[Christian]: Yeah for the service yeah. 

[Chris]: Yeah I mean there is so many things that we can do to go above and beyond. You know in Georgia the typical transaction is byer gets contract. Contract gets due diligence. Due diligence gets home inspection. After home inspection there is no other inspection done. They may be right on. I have never seen anybody do a lot of base paint test. They just kind of waive that and you know that is it. 

But there is so many other things that we can do. We can advise for air quality testing if there are allergies present which that I have seen happen. Partnering them with an insurance agent to make sure that the home is insurable and check for what the previous claims are. Like getting a clue report pulled. All of these things are huge and can make a big impact in not only your client experience but also controlling the situation, making sure that things are discovered before we get too far. So that at the last minute when we get to the closing table things are reared in their ugly head. 

[Christian]: So speaking of kind of above and beyond just us doing our jobs for our clients, I mean what are you guys thoughts about health warranties? Typically I have written those off because they are so limited typically. As far as what they replace in the time frame. But like recently I helped a friend of mine buy a house kind of outside of my normal area a little farther outside in Takoma. And the recommended inspector from some of my you know, agent friends down there, they actually include a very inclusive home warranty that I was very impressed with. 

And no extra charge you know like because they already did the inspection on the roof so they guarantee the roof is gonna hold for 5 years and appliances for this long and you know all these extra stuff that seems like a real value add for no additional money either to your pocket or out of their pocket. But what are you guys thoughts on hat?

[Nathan]: I mean here in Ohio it is long. A seller typically pays for home warranty. I like them but I like to choose it because there are certain home warranties that have what they are called caps or limitations on what they will cover. And if you know those I don’t think that is a good value. The ones that I typically go with on home warranty has no caps. The other side of it form a listing side is they have seller protection from the moment we put that house on the market, the items are covered in warranty. But I think you have to articulate to your client that a home warranty is good for your major stuff.

[Chris]: Yeah sure.

[Nathan]: Your HVAC furnace.

[Chris]: Sometimes.

[Nathan]: Yeah well OK again here they’re smart like don’t go and have a home warranty claim when you had an inspection that said it was bad right. That is not the way to do it so…

[Chris]: And on top of that if you have a 25 year old HVAC system it is not gonna pay for a brand new system if it [censored] out. It will have a maximum amount that it will pay towards but on a 25 year old system it is gonna not cover that switch over from you know what was it our 20 to now 4 10A or whatever the new coolant is. So you got explain that to your clients. 

Again back to what Nate was saying. Expectation setting. Back to what Christian was saying. Expectation setting. Making sure that everybody understands where the value is when they get it.

[Christian]: So what you’re saying is that home warranty can be of value just make sure you do your research that is actually a quality home warranty that provides something.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Nathan]: 100%.

[Chris]: On the first home that my wife and I ever purchased, 3 months in the stove shorted out. It came out 50 dollar call, rewired the entire thing and it worked fine. It is still in that home. But that was a lot less than it would have been you know to have you know a new stove or bring out an electrician so it has its values.

[Nathan]: Yeah yeah, I just had to call a client and we were 2 days outside of closing an she was the seller and the hot water tank failed. We had seller protection on it. Guess what 65 dollar call, brand new hot water tank.

[Chris]: There you go.

[Christian]: Save your 500 dollars.

[Nathan]: Saved probably more than that and you know she was already stressed out and called the client. I said “Let’s have home warranty take care of that”. Again if you know what you’re getting can be a great value. But…

[Chris]: Absolutely. 

[Nathan]: There are a lot of junk ones.

[Chris]: And all of this…yeah all of this goes in line with taking control of the transaction and making sure that we are directing it in a way to get it to the closing table and we are directing it in a way that is in our client’s best interest. 

[Christian]: Yeah and speaking of staying in control of that transaction one of the things that I see…I moved to a whole other topic on this whole episode, but is that you know what do you do to continue to provide value and stay in front of your clients after closed? Or what the agent is gonna feel at that?

[Nathan]: That is a whole episode. 

[Chris]: Yeah that is a whole episode. Why don’t we get into that next week [laughter]? 

[Christian]: OK well I will give a little teaser than.

[Chris]: Let’s give a teaser and we will get into it next week. 

[Christian]: What we started to do is a sort of called home button and that has been great because it is cheap. Right now it is only 25 dollars. You know, to use it and you get it for 500 clients. But basically it provides every month to your home buyer, it provides them with an automated like “Here is what your home is worth and if you refine,  this is what it would look like, if you are AIRBNBed one of your rooms this is the value if you added 300 dollars a month extra payment you know you would pay this much less over the course of yadayada”. So basically provides all these really easy to understand analytics for a client’s house that is branded to you. 

[Chris]: Awesome. 

[Christian]: And instead of you know you sending out some junk email drip thing every month where they probably don’t even look at, here is something that directly relates to their house that they’re probably gonna look at it. And you can see all the analytics and back end when they’re click on it.

[Chris]: Thanks for tuning into re:Think Real Estate. Make sure you join us next week as we talk about how to provide value post-closing and control that relationship into the future. Christian you gave a great teaser on that. For anybody who hasn’t please go to rtrepodcast.com. Sign up for the newsletter so you never miss when we drop an episode and leave us a 5-star review on iTunes. Have a great day everyone. 


[Chris]: Thanks for tuning in this week’s episode of the re:Think Real Estate Podcast. We would love to hear your feedback so please leave us a review on iTunes. Our music is curtesy of Dan Koch K-O-C-H, whose music can be explored and licensed for use at dankoch.net. Thank you Dan. Please like, share and follow. You can find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/rethinkpodcast. Thank you so much for tuning in everyone and have a great week.