Fab Real Estate Blog: Is Your Agent a Homeowner?

Is Your Agent a Homeowner?

I've always wondered how people can enter the real estate business, help people buy and sell homes, but have never bought or sold their own home.  I call them the "renter-real-estate-agents."

Can a renter be a good real estate agent? Perhaps.  But if they're not a homeowner themselves, they lack the true experience and knowledge of homeownership as a whole.  They lack the first-hand experience of all that homeownership entails - maintenance, property tax issues, tax deductions, the emotional attachments, and so on.

Most importantly, a renter-real-estate-agent has never experienced, personally, for themselves what it is truly like to be a home buyer and a home seller.  They don't have that up-close-and-personal knowledge that can only be gained by personal experience of the stresses involved in buying their home.  And, they don't have that up-close-and-personal knowledge that can only be gained by personal experience of the stresses involved in selling their home, either.

Buying and selling a home is an amazing, wonderful, stress-filled, anxiety-laden, expensive, (did I mention stress-filled?) and life-changing experience.  An agent who has been through it all themselves can understand, explain and prepare their clients for what to expect, thus lessening the stress.  They can better prepare a buyer for the home inspection, give personal examples of how to handle maintenance issues of homes, and share names of contractors they themselves have used.  They can share their personal war stories with sellers who quickly grow tired of keeping their home in model-condition and of having strangers traipse through their home.

It's important for real estate agents and their clients to connect on many levels, otherwise the relationship just won't work.  Working with an agent who has been through it all themselves should be a top priority on who a client chooses to have represent them.

And, yes, I have bought and sold several personal residences.  I've learned more each time, and it makes me not only more compassionate towards my clients, but it also makes me a better and smarter agent.

Comment balloon 45 commentsDon Fabrizio-Garcia • December 30 2006 10:28AM

Comments

I've read statistics to the effect that over 70% of agents rent and/or have never owned a home! I know that my viewpoint on business has changed dramatically now that I own a home and I can understand the consequences!

Scott

Posted by Scott Gormley (Oak Valley Mortgage-California Home Loans and Refinancing) almost 12 years ago
Scott - I've never seen such a statistic, but if it's true, it's disheartening and sure to generate some anger about my post. 
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago

Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Truer words were never spoken.  You are so right.  Buying a home is such a complicated matter, just going through it is an education.

I recall the first 4 homes I purchased.  I didn't have a CLUE!!  

Actually, until I got a real estate license and learned the business, I really just went through the motions.  Yet, agents who go through the motions and expect buyers and sellers to have a clue, are not really giving good service.  No wonder we hear of the horror stories. 

Very important post.  You need a gold star for it.

Lenn

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Lenn - Those are kind words coming from one I respect so much.  You need a gold star for everything you say.  We have a family joke that if we ever move to Maryland, then I'm going to work with you. Whether you like it or not!
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
So true!  It should almost be a licensing requirement.
Posted by Leigh Brown, CEO, Dream Maker - Charlotte, NC (Leigh Brown & Associates, RE/MAX Executive) almost 12 years ago
Leigh - Very good point!  I'm sure it wold never get through the licensing boards, though.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
When I started back up in real estate over a year ago there was a youngster (barely 21) who said "I have never bought a house, sold a house or lived in an owned house"  I was mortified.
Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) almost 12 years ago

Renee - And yet, this person was allowed to sell real estate.  I hope clients learn to ask about our own home purchase and sale histories.  My personal experiences are freely shared with all of my clients.  And I'm still learning all the time!

By the way - we have an Italian Greyhound, too.  You don't see them too often.  He's a major bundle of energy, especially now that we have a retired racing Greyhound, too. 

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Good point, I think the realtor's who have gone through it before would understand better what the client is going through and know what fears they may have that need eased with knowledge. I would be curious to know if those numbers are on the mark or not.
Posted by Sharon Leigh, (Graphic Reality) Got PhotoLogo? CandelLife@Gmail. (Sharon's Graphic Reality) almost 12 years ago

The same holds true for qworking with investors... if you don't believe enough to purchase, why should the consumer? The experience is so important.

The market will determine the success of these agents. If it's true that 70% are renters (hard to believe) it's important to note that many of them are in the 90% that don't do  much business. Clients will see through it, the agents will lack credibility.

moo

Posted by Angus in Naperville IL (RE/MAX of Naperville) almost 12 years ago
It should definitely be a requirement that a real estate agent has to also be a homeowner.  How can one tout all of the benefits of homeownership and not reflect those same points themselves?  Great post!
Posted by Jim & Maria Hart, Charleston, SC Real Estate (Brand Name Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
I can't believe that 70% of agents do not own homes.  What I can believe is that maybe 70% of new agents don't own homes.  And, like Angus said, they won't do much business.  When I was new, I attended a two-week training class.  I was astonished by how many of the new agents with me in the class didn't - and never have - owned a home.  How could they possibly help others do something they haven't done themselves yet?  Even being new in the business at that time, I found it disheartening.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
I have always believed that my experiences as a homeowner (in multiple states with some rather ugly transactions) has helped immensely in undestanding the consumer s they move through the process. A big part of the job, of course, is knowing the details of what has to be done, the disclosures, the paperwork, and other transactional matters. But understanding the emotional and psychological side of the process is so important, especially when there are problems. While you can't truly be in your buyer's shoes, if you have been through the process you are much better able to empathize with them and appreciate the feelings they are experiencing. I believe this is true also for relocation - if you haven't done it you can't really know what it is like.
Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) almost 12 years ago
I absolutely agree with you. Having been a homeowner first had made me more resourceful for my clients (some friends used me because we have the home buying experience). We purchased our first home 8 months after I graduated. We helped alot of friends along the way.

And yes, I tried to sell our home. It sure is different. After that experience, I constantly remind myself what would I do if this was my home - for my sellers.
Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co.) almost 12 years ago
Jeff - Exactly!  You can't learn the emotional and psychological issues that go along with buying or selling a home in a classroom.  Relocation is the same thing - I've moved cross-country twice, and it's a bit tough on the nerves.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Interesting post.  I wonder how this applies to other industries.  Do all car salespersons own cars?  Do all doctors have medical needs?  Does everyone in the TV department at Best Buy have their own plasma?  Not sure what my view on this topic is (don't worry, I've owned plenty of homes) but i'm anxious to see all the responses!
Posted by Kaushik Sirkar (Call Realty, Inc.) almost 12 years ago
Loreena - You're right.  Because you have both bought and sold your own home, you know what goes on in the minds of your clients.  And, you are able to empathize and consider, as you said, "what would I do if this was my home?"  I take each client's transaction to heart, and treat it as if it were my own home.  It adds a little stress to my own life, but hopefully it helps alleviate some for my clients.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Kaushik - I think the investment involved with a $1,000 TV is a bit different from that of a house.  Though, most people working in the TV department at Best Buy probably do own a large screen TV!  And I certainly hope doctors get their own medical needs attended to - otherwise, how much faith can we put into their treatment advice if they won't follow their own advice?
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
....and that's why when I say to my buyers or sellers, 'I understand what you are going thru', I know what they are talking about because I've experience both ends personally.  And oh yes, it can be very draining.  One of my customer just told me last week that if it was not for me, she would not have purchase her home.  The successful closing took place 12/27/06 and she sign the papers since 12/22/06 since it was a mail away!!
Posted by Netta Blackwood, REO/BPO Expert (La Rosa Realty) almost 12 years ago
Netta - Congratulations on closing on your clients' home before the New Year.  I'm sure they're appreciative of starting off 2007 in a new home.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Don, Very good post. Experience is Knowledge and knowledge is what we need to give to our clients both buyers and sellers. I agree that without having experienced ownership first hand, at least once...just how much experience are you bringing to the plate and offering your client? You can read a book, take a test and go through the motions but until you experience first hand, it's a little more difficult to convey with authority any value to your clients. "Practice what you Preach (or at least what you Offer)."
Posted by Gena Riede, Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699 (Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792) almost 12 years ago
Would you go to a brain surgeon for foot surgery why would you buy a house from someone with no expertise in the area?  Unfortunate but there are quacks in every business.
Posted by Teri Isner, GRI, CRS, CIPS (Keller Williams Realty at the Lakes) almost 12 years ago

When I was 26 Carter was President. Interest rates were 21%. The company I worked for pulled out of Helena, Mt. Not a lot of people moving into Helena at that time. I sold my house to a guy that had an industrial accident 3 months later and was blinded. He defaulted on the note I was carrying due to the 21% bank rates at the time. I was 1000 miles away and had no way to carry two notes. 

Long story short - the bank worked it all out for me. What did I get - off the hook and some very good experience that is paying me benefits right now in this California market. Understanding and compassion go a long way in a people business. 

Posted by Harper Team (J Rockcliff Realtors) almost 12 years ago

You are so on the money.  another pet peave of mine is agents from one market who what to be an expert selling my market.  doesn't anyone get that real estate is a local sport and visiting teams do not do very well.  They do their clients a major dis-servie.  If I have business in the next town, I bring a local agent with me and let them handel the business side of it - and we split something.  I'd much rather get a bunch of splits then listings all over the map that I am not as familiar with as I should be.

nOW HAVE A bLESSED dAY,

jOHN oCCHI, hEMET rEALTOR
WWW.jOHNoCCHI.cOM

Posted by John Occhi, SRES,CPRES.ePRO - Temecula-Murrieta CA Real Estate (Mason Real Estate) almost 12 years ago

I am amazed by anyone who is telling their customers they should buy, but don't feel they themselves should.

Aloha to all and have a Hauoli Makahiki Hou  (Happy New Year in Hawaiian)

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) almost 12 years ago
Would you buy a car from someone who has never drove one?  Or stocks from someone who has never bought any for themselves.  I agree with your post!
Posted by Home Design, Home Design and Real Estate almost 12 years ago
Gena - Yep, you get it!  The intimate details of buying and selling a home just cannot be taught, or learned, in a classroom.  Personal experience makes us better.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Teri - You're right.  I think many agents come into this business as renters, thinking they'll get rich quick and then buy a home at a steep discount because they'll be "in the business."  It doesn't work that way.  We don't get rich quick.  I wish we did!  I think most of these "renter-real-estate-agents" that started at the same time as I did have now moved on to different careers.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago

The Harper Team - I used to live and sell in Walnut Creek, so I understand the market you're dealing with now.  And, yes, it is exactly the experiences such as you have described - what we've been through with our own homes and our own ordeals - that make us great agents.  Without it, we'd be the blind leading the blind.

John - I completely agree.  I have tried, in the past, to sell outside my knowledge area.  It wasn't fair to my clients.  I've since created an extensive referral base of agents - my clients deserve the best service, even if that means they shouldn't work with me.

Randy - Mahalo.  That's the whole point.  How do you know it's good to buy a home, if you haven't bought one yourself.  How do you know this is the right thing to do?  As an aside, I spent two weeks in Hawaii 10 years ago for my honeymoon.  We loved it and have been trying to get back ever since!

Jennifer - Good point - I often ask my financial planner about her personal experience, and about what stocks she owns, and she freely shares that information with me.  Even after the Enron debacle, I still trust her, because she had some money in there, too!

 

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Don,
It was my home ownership buy/sell experience that got me into Real Estate school in the first place!  
Posted by joanne Douglas (Terrie O'Connor Realtors) almost 12 years ago

When I first got into real estate, I had just turned 24 and was only making about $30k in corporate world.  You can't buy a "decent" house with that type of income.  I could have bought a condo, but for that price range, it's just like an apartment... so I opted to wait a year.  With that, because of my credit scores, I was able to buy a house with stated income only even though I was self employed less than 2 years.  The rate was a little higher, but I was now a home owner... and again... and the second time around was a NIGHTMARE!!!

It's not just the realtors that are apartment dwellers but MANY mortgage people are as well.  It amazes me how many people can give the ins and outs of loans and not get one themselves though they know all the options.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) almost 12 years ago

I am in the real estate business because of my home buying selling experience.  The buy side wasnt too bad except it was never disclosed to me that my agent actually worked for the seller.  This was in 1996 before buyer agency came to CT.  I had NO clue what I was doing and now am amazed I made it through it.

Selling was the catalyst.  I found out afterward that there were things that I didnt know about.  Like that I didnt HAVE to make repairs that CHFA required.  I was told I HAD to.  My home sold THREE times.  The first two times the person was not even qualified to buy.  The house appraised out twice and them somehow appraised out at 10K less on the 3rd go round in an increasing sellers market!  My realtor NEVER told me I didnt have to go forward.  She NEVER told me I could negotiate.  She agreed to a commission reduction and when we got to closing NEVER said a word and collected her full 3%.  I found all this out aftwerwards and felt totally betrayed.

ooops...guess I vented there a bit.  But my point is without having gone through both processes I would have no idea what an emotional experience it is as well as finanically stressful etc.  And I learned what NOT to in my own business.

 

Posted by Jamie Ramos, New Haven Connecticut Real Estate Agent (Re/Max Alliance) almost 12 years ago

interesting post, it is really hard to imagine so many agents are renter, this is like "Do as I say, not as I do."

Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) almost 12 years ago
Yes, I agree. Interesting post. How can an agent empathize with a client if they haven't  "walked the walk"?
Posted by Debi Braulik, Selling Maple Valley to Fife WA Homes For Sale (www.roundrealestate.com) almost 12 years ago

Joanne - Glad to hear that buying and selling your own home turned you on to selling real estate for a living.  That's a heck of a way to get motivated, and you entered the profession with a bit of knowledge already under your belt.

Jamie - Because of your own home selling experiences, you now are so much better prepared to truly represent your clients.  That experience will prove invaluable to your clients, even if they may never realize it.

Donna - You're right - mortgage brokers who don't have a mortgage of their own, or who have never refinanced their own mortgage, have to be working at a disadvantage that may affect their clients.

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Jennifer & Debi - you each added great quotes to this debate.  Thank you.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago

I am going to have the least popular post in this entire discussion, but here goes:

If you've ever had a family member suffer from cancer, chances are the physician was not a cancer patient himself.  Yet you still trusted your loved one in his hands?  Yes, because he has had extensive training, "hands-on" experience, and (most likely) sincerely cared about the outcome.  I certainly appreciate the intent of all of the previous posts, but lack of personal experience in a situation doesn't necesarily make someone unable to perform at a high level.

And yes, I've bought and sold property  :)

Anthony Clark, Tulsa, Oklahoma

http://TulsaMetroRealtor.com

Posted by Anthony Clark, Real Estate. It's About Lifestyle! (Clark Partners) almost 12 years ago
Excellent question for our clients.  If an agent doesn't believe enough in the market they sell in it's just like a stock broker who never owned a stock or a Mercedes dealer who never owned a car.  LUDICROUS!
Posted by Kelly Mitchell, TheWineSiren.com Food | Wine | Fab *Napa Valley (The Wine Siren & Agent Caffeine) almost 12 years ago
Anthony - yes, that cancer doctor treating cancer may not have had cancer previously, he he or she has certainly had a lot more training and education and hand-on experience before working solo than a real estate agent obtains.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Kelly - great points.  Thanks for sharing, and I'm glad to see most people agree that being a homeowner yourself is such an important facet for any agent that wants to deliver the best service to their clients.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Same is true for loan officers. Until you go through the process personally, you may not have the right perspective to help others. To sell America you should certainly have owned some of it.
Posted by John Klassen (M & T Bank) almost 12 years ago

Funny, sure touched on something here!  Great to see that there are so many views

I became a REALTOR because of my experience in buying and selling a home.  I bought my first home when I was 26 and I wanted to make sure no one had to feel like I did when I went through it.  I knew I could make a differrence.

While I can comment on the posts about the importance of being a REALTOR and a homeowner, the biggest key is the client. 

 A cancer doctor empathizes with the patient and the family, a REALTOR empathizes with the client.  How your communicate and educate and represent your client is what matters.  The bond you have with your client is just that a bond. You are the expert- can you know the ins and outs of a transaction solely by your education? Or is it more knowledge because you have personally gone through it?  Seems the biggest thing here would be you "feel" the experience because you have been there before as opposed to being experienced in it by prior transactions.  What does that mean to the client?  The difference in saying to a client 'I did that when I bought my home'  as opposed to explaining 'this is what happens'.  Is that more for your benefit, or the clients?

Food for thought here, not saying I agree or disagree that a licensee should have purchased a home before or that it impacts the transaction- just pointing out that a good agent is a good agent because of the bond and representation they provide to a client.

Perceptions is 99% of the rule, how does the cleient perceive an agent?  What do they expect? Does it just solidify the relationship when an agent can say ' I know how you feel I've been there  before'? 

I believe our profession is one of great pride, and it's hard when you hear those horror stories of transactions gone crazy.  For those agents who believe in what they do and take it seriously, we need to express that to clients.  For agents who are in this business for the wrong reasons, or do not take it seriously..............well, stop and think about how and what that means to consumers. It's about the consumer. 

Posted by Sandy Cuckler (HER Real Living) almost 12 years ago

Funny, sure touched on something here!  Great to see that there are so many views

I became a REALTOR because of my experience in buying and selling a home.  I bought my first home when I was 26 and I wanted to make sure no one had to feel like I did when I went through it.  I knew I could make a differrence.

While I can comment on the posts about the importance of being a REALTOR and a homeowner, the biggest key is the client. 

 A cancer doctor empathizes with the patient and the family, a REALTOR empathizes with the client.  How your communicate and educate and represent your client is what matters.  The bond you have with your client is just that a bond. You are the expert- can you know the ins and outs of a transaction solely by your education? Or is it more knowledge because you have personally gone through it?  Seems the biggest thing here would be you "feel" the experience because you have been there before as opposed to being experienced in it by prior transactions.  What does that mean to the client?  The difference in saying to a client 'I did that when I bought my home'  as opposed to explaining 'this is what happens'.  Is that more for your benefit, or the clients?

Food for thought here, not saying I agree or disagree that a licensee should have purchased a home before or that it impacts the transaction- just pointing out that a good agent is a good agent because of the bond and representation they provide to a client.

Perceptions is 99% of the rule, how does the cleient perceive an agent?  What do they expect? Does it just solidify the relationship when an agent can say ' I know how you feel I've been there  before'? 

I believe our profession is one of great pride, and it's hard when you hear those horror stories of transactions gone crazy.  For those agents who believe in what they do and take it seriously, we need to express that to clients.  For agents who are in this business for the wrong reasons, or do not take it seriously..............well, stop and think about how and what that means to consumers. It's about the consumer. 

Posted by Sandy Cuckler (HER Real Living) almost 12 years ago
John - you're absolutely right - the same goes for mortgage brokers as for REALTORS.  Thanks for highlighting that point.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago

Sandy - thanks for your comments.  They caused me to think - enough that I had to read your words a couple of times. But, I must disagree with you that "Perception is 99% of the rule..."  A client may perceive their listing agent was great, but what if that agent actually left thousands of dollars on the table?  Did that agent represent their client well?  I don't think so.

You question whether an agent being a homeowner benefits the client or the agent.  Well, think of this - what sounds better?  "Well, I was taught in my 60 hours of pre-licensing training that your mortgage interest paid is tax deductible"  or "When I file my taxes, all my mortgage interest that I pay each year is a tax deduction.  You need to maintain a copy of your closing statement to give to your tax preparer so you won't miss out on this great tax savings.  Or, better yet, speak to your tax preparer now to find out exactly what tax benefits you may obtain."  Neither one benefits me at all.  But the latter statement definitely benefits my clients. 

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 12 years ago

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