Something you may not know about me is that I work every other weekend at a real estate agency. I answer the phones and schedule appointments and am basically a glorified secretary. Its a nice little job that gets me out of the house and away from the kids a few days a month. I get some adult interaction and Chev gets to bond with the girls.
I’ve been doing this for about two and a half years now, and in that time I have learned a few things about buying and selling homes that I’d like to share with you. I hope you find it helpful the next time you are on the prowl for a new home.
For the Buyers
Do not call me and ask if you can schedule a showing on a house you just drove past today. No, you can’t. Why? For so many reasons. Only real estate agents can schedule showings. If you don’t have one, you need to get one. And you need to get per-approved for a mortgage. Then, and only then, can you go see houses. Which you will not be calling me about, because that is your agent’s job. And when they call me, I will have to contact the owner of the home, who will very likely not want to leave their house just so you can look at it with no notice.
Do not call me and tell me that you are interested in information on the house we have for sale in Wherevertown, but you don’t know the street name or house number. Don’t give me random landmarks, like “It’s across the street from the barber shop.” I don’t know where the hell the barber shop is. Do you seriously think I have a map of the entire state locked away in my head, with every random little business written on it? No, I don’t. I don’t have a map at all. I have a computer program with limited searching ability, which includes things like street names and house numbers, but does NOT include landmarks or vague descriptions of locations.
On a very similar note, do not call me and ask for information on a house based solely on description. I’m sure it’s a very cute brick ranch home. Just like the 30 other brick ranch homes we have for sale. None of which I am familiar with, because my system doesn’t show me pictures of the properties. I don’t know what any of them look like, unless I actually look them up on a separate system, and I only do that if they are super expensive or really popular and I’m being nosy. Know the damn street name!
If you don’t speak English, don’t get mad at me because I don’t understand you. I know very little German, and even less Spanish. I will do my best to get you to someone who speaks your language, but bare in mind that I am usually the only person in the office on weekends, so I’m going to have to connect you to someone else’ cell phone. Which brings me to…
If you call me and I connect you to someone else’ cell phone so you can get the information I can’t give you, and you get their voice mail….leave a damn message! Don’t call me back and tell me they didn’t answer. It is the weekend. They are either showing houses to other clients or enjoying time with their families. They will call you back when they have time to devote to your needs. Do not call me back and give me grief about them not answering. I am not their puppet masters. I can’t magically make them answer their phones. I don’t have some other secret phone number for them that I am withholding from you. I want you to talk to them. Then you will stop calling me. So just leave a damn message and if you have to wait until tomorrow to talk to them, it’s not my damn fault.
Do not walk into my office on the weekend and expect to be able to see an agent. There probably isn’t one here. Weekends are busy times for agents. That’s when they do most of their showings and open houses, in between trying to spend some time with their families. They aren’t here. Call and make an appointment. I’ll hook you up with someone really nice. But giving me attitude about me being the only one here isn’t getting you anywhere.
For the Sellers
You want to sell your house, right? Then you have to have it available to be shown. Setting insane restrictions on when people can and can not see your house isn’t going to make it sell any faster. Seriously, the less time available the longer it is going to sit on the market. Evenings and weekends are a must. I know it’s inconvenient, but that’s just how it goes. People need to see your house to buy it. So telling us that we can’t have showings after 5pm or on weekends is going to seriously narrow your chances of selling. Just let them in.
Clean your damn house. This should be common sense, but it’s not. You would not believe the state of some of the houses Chev and I toured when we were buying. Even in the lower price ranges, like we were, you are still going to turn off buyers if your house is a mess. Pick up the kids’ toys, make your bed, and get all of that clutter off of the kitchen counter. Vacuum. Dust. For the love of all that is holy, clean your bathroom. People don’t buy houses that are icky.
But don’t get psycho about keeping your house pristine, either. It is ok to request that people take their shoes off if the weather is bad and you’ve just had the carpets professionally cleaned. It is not ok to call me before every single showing and reiterate to me that everyone MUST take their shoes off, no matter what, or you will pull the house off of the market. I don’t care if you pull your house off of the market. I’m paid by the hour. What I care is that you are annoying me over something so trivial it is ridiculous. If you are that concerned, buy some of those cheap carpet squares and make a trail.
Crate your dog. Even if your dog is super friendly and has never been crated in it’s life, borrow a crate from a friend and put your dog in it. Or take it for a walk during the showing. Or take it to a friends house. Just don’t leave it in your home to maul unsuspecting agents and their clients. This goes for evil cats as well. And parrots with an attitude. And any other animal you own. Also, clean the litter box/bird cage/terrarium/fish tank/ect.
Stop being paranoid. Agents and their clients aren’t going to riffle through your things. They don’t care about your bills, bank statements, or any other personal paperwork you may have sitting on your desk. In fact, the less of your stuff they have to see, the happier they are going to be. They aren’t out to steal your great great grandmother’s crystal cat from Paris. Your listing agent does not need to come to all of your showings. You certainly don’t need to be in your house for all of them. Lock your stuff up if you are worried, but, really, it will be fine.
If an agent doesn’t show up, or leaves the kitchen light on, or forgot to leave a business card don’t call me and bitch at me for twenty minutes like it is the end of the damn world. It isn’t. Things happen. Having a light on for an hour won’t kill your electric bill. Having to go out for coffee with your husband for no reason isn’t the end of the world. Not having a collection of business cards of people you’ve never heard of is really no big deal. By all means, if someone let your cat out of the house, left all of the doors and windows open, or spilled coffee on your couch let me know. I’ll share in your outrage. But if the ceiling fan was left on, I don’t really care. You shouldn’t either.
If you are going through a messy divorce, and you have to sell your house but you don’t want to…..deal with it. I’m sorry. That sucks. But you know what? That’s not my problem. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and move on. Do the right thing. Let me schedule showings so the house can get sold and you can get this over with. Don’t ignore my phone calls, or call and cancel already confirmed appointments at the last minute. Don’t take it out on me, or the agents, or the nice people who want to buy your house.
And finally, for both the buyer and the seller, remember that I am the person who is trying to help you. I will bend over backward to figure out where that property is, across from the barber shop. I will listen to you bitch and moan about your ex-husband. I will do whatever is in my power to get you what you need. So be nice to me. Or I’ll disconnect you and blame it on phone troubles.