Take Your Realtor Seriously

I am a Realtor. My wife is a Realtor. Together we lead The Schuett Team of Keller Williams Bellevue Realty. Maria and I have had a long and deep passion for the real estate industry.

My passion didn’t begin until about 1994 when my wife, at that time, had earned a very large commission check at her job as a television station advertising and marketing specialist. She insisted that we should take that money and buy a home. We were both young and didn’t know what we were doing. But we found a home that suited us. We bought it. We improved it. And after only a few years we moved into a house double in size. And we did it without selling our first house. Instead, we kept it as a rental. We only sold it when we wanted to buy a new home in a new location only 8-9 years after buying our 1st home.

It’s important to note that after buying our first home we had almost no money at all. There was nothing left in savings. We lived paycheck to paycheck, as the old saying goes. But because we had bought a house, we started accumulating wealth.

The Realtor we used to buy our first house was a fast talking Filipino woman who was the sister of a co-worker of mine, a co-worker who was one of the most skilled salespeople I have ever known. It seemed she was from the same school, because she sold us, and not in the most honest manner. She convinced us to make an offer on a house…”before we lost it to someone else.” We hadn’t been sure about the house. But the idea of losing it propelled us into making an offer. The house had been on the market for three months. In negotiating our offer the seller demanded a 90-day close. We were not in danger of losing the house. The Realtor was just tired of showing us houses and wanted us to find something so she could move-on to someone else.

When we bought our second house about 3 years later we chose another real estate professional. This was a friend and co-worker who had just started his real estate career and was only doing it part-time. We wanted to help him. The house he showed us and we eventually bought was way outside the geographic area where we had asked him to look for homes. I still remember being upset as I followed him in our car to an unknown address. As we got further and further outside the area we wanted I was thinking, we might need to find someone else to help us. Then we saw the house and I loved it immediately. It checked all the numerous boxes I’d asked to be included in what we were looking for…except location.

Six-to-seven years later we were on the move again. For the sake of our children we felt we needed a more blue-collar neighborhood rather than continue to live with the the snobby, nose-in-the-air people in the community we had chosen. The former co-worker I hired for our second home search was no longer in real estate. So we chose someone with no referrals or references whatsoever. I don’t even remember how we found her. But she was located in the geographic area we wanted to consider. We ended up firing her after finding a house we liked without her help. She had repeatedly shown us homes that didn’t match our criteria and she didn’t find the one we did like, something I never understood, and understand even less now that I’m a Realtor myself. We ended up hiring a buying agent which came recommended to us by the house’s listing agent. Probably not the smartest move in the world. I don’t even remember their name. I think they were a woman. But I don’t even remember that.

At this point a the age of about 39, with my wife, I had bought 3 houses. The first two we kept as rentals for a period of time, before selling each. The first house was sold by a listing agent I have almost no memory of. They were chosen almost entirely because their brokerage office was close to the house we were selling.

Our second house and second rental was sold before we had to face the Capital gains tax for having lived outside it for three years. I do remember the listing agent. We chose him because he was a cut-rate agent and listed our home for only a 4% commission rate. I also remember this independent brokerage was out of business shortly after the real estate collapse of 2009. We did far more research in the choosing of a Realtor this time. Including the cut-rate guy two other agents submitted listing proposals to us. Each of the other two substantially underestimated the ultimate selling price of the house. The cut-rate guy submitted a proposal that would list the house at substantially more than the other two proposals. And even though we had to lower the price after a couple weeks on the market, we still sold it well above what the other two agents proposed listing it for. I don’t know what they were thinking.

Sadly, the third house was sold due to a divorce from my wife at the time. We hired a family member as our listing agent. And while they did a good job with some things, including the listing price, we weren’t completely satisfied. But being a family member we kept our concerns to ourselves.

As a divorced, single, self-employed man I was able to buy my own house less than two years after my divorce. I had one criteria in finding my buyer’s agent; I was looking for someone who would return the favor and do business with me and my marketing company. To make a long story short, this agent reneged on his promise to give me some business after my new home was purchased.

I was married to my beautiful wife Maria three years after my divorce. She was already a Realtor, and due to her urging I got my license too, in order to help her build our real estate business. Together we bought our current and what I hope will be my last home nearly 2 years ago.

In summary, through the purchase of five homes and the sale of five homes (Maria and I also sold our rental which had been her home prior to our marriage), I’ve made nearly every mistake in the book in hiring a real estate agent. I hired friends and relatives of friends. I’ve hired close family members. I’ve hired cut-rate agents. I’ve hired agents we’ve ultimately fired. I’ve hired agents that promised financial reciprocation. And I’ve hired agents having done almost no research on them or others at all. And in all cases (aside from the family member) I never heard from any of them ever again. Until Maria and I sold our two houses and bought our current one on our own I never got my house at what I thought was a particularly good price; and never sold a home for what I thought we should. In the case of selling the homes we have sold there was always an urgency that made selling them at less than best prices necessary. A good agent could and should have helped us with that.

When making one of the biggest decisions of your life, hiring someone to be your Realtor just because they are family, or a friend, or because they promise something they won’t put in writing is not the best approach. Wisdom and experience should be your measuring sticks for who represents you in deciding to buy or sell a home or investment property. When you look into a Realtor’s background and judge their knowledge you will make a better decision than by just having a friendly connection.

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