Integrity - adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
Although, this is a blog, I hope it can serve as an open letter to those considering selling a home, buying a home or working in the real estate industry. It should come as no surprise that every interaction that occurs within the real estate industry is impacted by several people. Those that look upon the industry with disdain base their feelings on information shared via the press (on air, in print and on-line), stories heard from those around them and most importantly on personal experience. Truth be told, as an industry we are not as bad as some of the information might indicate and we certainly are not as good as we would like to believe.
When one consumer has a positive experience, those involved in that transaction succeed. When one consumer has a negative experience, we all fail. A successful transaction can occur when most of the participants work in concert with one another. In many cases, it only takes one person to drop the ball and the entire transaction falls apart.
Everyone plays a role. It begins with the consumer. While each consumer has the right to choose a lender, an agent and a title company, they must do so honestly or the entire journey begins from a tainted starting point. Consumers complain about the style of agents. Agents bemoan the lack of loyalty in consumers. Both sides have legitimate views. Agents are different and their style is their own. Consumers, in some cases, have little regard for the efforts of agents.
Rather than disparage the style of an agent, take the time to interview them. You know what you need and expect when dealing with a service provider (agents are not sales people, they don't sell anything, that's why that are called "agents"). Find an agent that responds in a time frame and fashion that is acceptable to you. Doing so in the very beginning will pave the way for a smoother transaction. Use ONE agent at a time. It is immoral to hop from one to another to another without any allegiance to anyone. Being a real estate agent is their job. Treat that with respect and you will be rewarded with a two way professional relationship. If, at some point, things begin to sour, end the relationship. You will be free to hire another agent and the agent that didn't work out will be free to move on to another client.
Agents should walk away from anyone that does not commit to working with them. Of course, you have to give it some time to see if the partnership (it is a form of partnership) can work. Both sides have to be comfortable with one another. If an agent realizes that they are just part of a "rotation", they need to walk away. The argument that you may be the one out of several that actually earns a commission holds no water when you understand that your gain comes at the expense of the time and effort expended by your peers. Whatever is earned in one transaction must be measured against time lost in cases when you were not "the one". After six clicks, no one wins at Russian Roulette.
There is an agent for every consumer, every agent is not for every consumer.
Integrity. What does it mean in real estate. Clear away the convoluted terminology and just look at the very naked, basic principles. Someone wants to sell a home and someone wants to buy a home. The transaction must be financed. The seller has to market the home and the buyer must discover and vet the home. All the parties must sit down and consummate the transaction.
A seller can decide to sell without any help. If you are the seller, you must obey Federal and local laws regarding the sale of a home. A buyer can decide to buy without any help. The financing will vary depending on the liquid cash position of the buyer. Closing documents and transfer of the property must be prepared and done according to local law.
Most people seek the assistance of a real estate professional. In all cases, being truthful about your situation will lead to the smoothest transaction. Don't ask an agent to overlook defects when disclosing information about your home. Don't ask an agent to assist you in a purchase that is beyond your means. Don't attempt to hide credit problems from your lender. Don't sign documents at closing that you know to be in error. Integrity. It is the most important component of the transaction. Integrity is the basis for a solid relationship with your seller, with your buyer, with your agent, with your lender and with your title company.
Strip away the facade created by ego. Remove the illusions created by greed. Honestly approach your real estate transaction with the integrity it deserves. After the sale of your home or the purchase of your new home or the thanks from your client, you will enjoy the peace of mind that comes from being solid character in society. The alternative is being just another weak thread in the fabric of a deteriorating image of the real estate industry. The choice, in a free country, is yours. Choose wisely.