When I began my career in Miami real estate almost 20 years ago, I assumed my days would be spent simply buying and selling homes for clients. Little did I know about the complex and ever-evolving nature of real estate, and the importance of being versatile and flexible. As a result, I have come to realize that my job is not one “job” at all: It is five different jobs at once, and sometimes a few more! Allow me to share with you the different “hats” we agents wear, with some illustrative examples.
Most laypeople are surprised to discover the extent of legal knowledge one must have to earn a real estate license, maintain a viable practice, and prepare for impactful industry changes. Although I always suggest that my clients seek certified legal counsel, it is important for agents like me to keep a firm handle on every transaction, as well as the unique regulations of Miami’s various municipalities.
Working with foreign clients requires yet another layer of legal proficiency and, as you may already know, there are a large influx of foreign nationals who come to Miami to purchase property on a daily basis. Like many of my local real estate colleagues, I have developed a working awareness of serious legal issues related to international taxes, banking, visas, and immigration, which can save clients considerable time and money.
Image is incredibly important in Miami real estate, requiring me to keep up with the latest in design, photography, and videography techniques to promote my listings, identify and target the best pools of prospective buyers for my sellers; and market myself in a highly competitive industry.
Marketing also requires a keen understanding of special opportunities for a client, and the willingness to pursue them. I once had a listing appointment with a couple that was getting ready to sell their Coral Gables condominium and were interested in finding a nearby single-family home. At the end of the appointment, I mentioned that I had just previewed a home that I believed would be perfect for them, and took them to see it that evening. The clients fell in love with it and were anxious to make an offer right away, but I suggested that they wait until their condo was under contract and past the inspection period before pursuing the new home. (This spontaneous excursion and my cautious advice went a long way toward them choosing me for representation.)
As an aggressive marketer, I made sure to have their condo professionally photographed and listed online immediately, with an interactive floor plan, photos of every room, jumbo postcards and glossy brochures. My hard work paid off and, within days, it was under contract — but the contract did not stick. And neither did the second one…or the one after that! Which leads me to the next “hat” we agents wear all too often.
As you might imagine, buying and selling real estate requires dealing with the complex emotions and opinions of multiple individuals and personalities…all before we even start dealing with our counterparts on each transaction. Agents must act as “therapists” to keep the reactions of our customers in balance; for example, not getting overly excited about a particularly promising offer or enticing property, or too disheartened about a rejected offer or a deal that goes south.
In the case of my frustrated condo sellers, the problem laid not with the unit, but with the building itself, which was facing some litigation and thereby causing a red flag for buyers interested in conventional home loans. This challenge required frequent communication with my clients, and the practical suggestion to withdraw the offer on their new house, in order to protect their deposit (since the proceeds from the sale of the condo were necessary for the deposit of the new house.) Luckily, we quickly found buyers who were able to finance the property with an unconventional loan and everything worked out, but my clients needed multiple “pep talks” to keep their spirits up.
To make our clients happy — and earn our commissions — agents must step out of our comfort zones and take on an unusually wide range of assignments. This often requires “juggling” multiple responsibilities at once while maintaining a sense of calm and composure. I once had a seller whose rental property had been severely damaged. Because of the location and caliber of the home, I advised the seller to have a long list of repairs done before putting it on the market, in order to maximize the highest profit. He agreed — but asked me to oversee the entire process. For the next six months, I oversaw a dizzying renovation effort that included a full replacement of warped floors and cabinets, a complete mold remediation, the installation of new pavers, and re-painting of the interior and exterior, just to name a few of the projects. (All while representing my day-to-day clients and running a business, not to mention being a mother of two young boys.)
That property was sold in one day for just below asking price, which brings us to the last “hat” that I wear every day… that of a fierce negotiator. From my experience, tough negotiating requires being patient, relentless, and willing to go above and beyond.
I once sold a Brickell area unit to foreign buyers who were not familiar with the way business is handled in the United States. To get the deal done, I had to sit down with them (and their agent) for two-plus hours to make them feel comfortable with the sales contract, timelines, expectations, and of course, the price. (They were under the impression that the seller was taking appliances with them and leaving their furniture. One tip that I give my sellers is to never negotiate furniture up front, but rather to leave it to the very end when there is an impasse in agreement on a contract price — it can be a very useful bargaining chip.) It took a lot of negotiating back and forth before we could agree on a price, and it ended up being the highest sale in the building that year and closed within two weeks of being listed.
The ‘Top Hats’
While all the “hats” I wear are important, those of marketer and negotiator are the most critical, in my opinion. My job is to make sure that 100 percent of buyers looking for a property like the one I am selling know that it is on the market. (With the competition that is out there, your property had better stand out from the crowd with some phenomenal marketing!) Additionally, I am always prepared to negotiate the very best sales price for my clients so that they can feel comfortable knowing that they aren’t leaving any money on the table and netting the very best value.
Master Broker Barbara Haley is a Realtor consultant with Douglas Elliman Real Estate. She can be reached at 305-482-3773 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ This piece was written for Business Monday in the Miami Herald and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the newspaper.
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