Real Estate Sales is not Rocket Surgery

But you had better handle the emergencies well.

real estate

I just finished watching the movie Sully and it gave the audience a glimpse into the responsibility someone can feel for people under their care. It also highlighted the scrutiny that can follow when events don’t go as planned. What made me want to see this movie was the fact that this was a real life event that thrust normal people into an emergency situation. Captain Sullenberger had been quietly mastering his craft for 40 years. Then came a bird strike out of the blue and the emergency landing… His character in the movie remarked: “I’ve delivered a million passengers over 40 years yet in the end I’m going to be judged on 208 seconds.” Real Estate Sales is a LOT like that! EVERYTHING is colored by the last few days leading into the closing.

How Hard Could it Be?

Buying or selling a house could be straightforward IF… the seller is honest, the house is in tip-top shape, seller continues to maintain the house, the buyer is honest, the buyer behaves at work, the buyer stops buying other things,  the buyer has plenty of money, the buyer chooses a lender who is able to get things done early, the inspector is not an alarmist, reasonable people are involved and they work through the inspection issues, the appraiser actually knows the market where the house is located, the neighbors do not accost the buyer with accusations, the closing attorney has a good staff, the HOA cooperates in a timely manner and mother nature holds off on the surprises. If there are agents involved, they also need to help move the sale forward smoothly rather than introducing drama by suggesting ill will and ulterior motives on the part of the other side.

But real estate sales are rarely free from all of those. Agents joke that real estate sales would be easy if it just weren’t for the people. What they mean is that people come with agendas, motives and selfishness. That mixture can bring drama and it is the drama that takes all the fun out of buying and selling homes. Delivering great service is tough enough. Delivering great service with competing agendas, personal drama and raging emotions can be downright complicated. At times it can feel like rocket surgery.

It is not Life or Death

In the end, it is still just buying or selling house. It is not real surgery on a living person. It is not life or death. No one ever died because a closing did not happen – at least not directly – that I know of. A house is not going to burn down because a deadline is missed or a text is misinterpreted. But houses can burn down – the night before the closing. Movers can drop huge wardrobes off a second story catwalk resulting in a furniture explosion. Washing machine hoses can burst.

Still, we are dealing with stuff – stuff that is most likely insured. Yes, dreams are wrapped up in that stuff and the loss of a dream is stressful. This is when we find out who people really are. Character is not made during a crisis – it is just revealed.

There is No Referee

There is no referee in the game of real estate sales. Selling a property is the equivalent of two countries negotiating a trade agreement. Yes, there are brokers involved above the agents but brokers are biased. There are laws and contracts in place but in the end, there is no ultimate authority watching over the process. No one to rule on an issue. No one who can call a penalty or eject a player. The parties involved just have to work it out. The parties have to work everything out. That means they even have to work out how they are NOT going to proceed if the contract is to be terminated.

Twenty one years down the road, I think what surprises people the most (agents included) is that contract language is not always black and white. The best route is communicate well and work together to address any bumps in the road.

Smooth Landings

As with any profession, witnessing the desired and typical outcome can seem routine. That does not mean it was easy. That means that the professionals involved have practiced enough to be able to achieve the desired outcome even if the unexpected arises.

I believe most people want things to go smoothly once a house goes under contract. Most of the time, everyone on both sides does their part and things fall into place like they are supposed to. As an experienced Realtor, I can tell you that I never relax until a couple of days after a closing. Passing deadlines and milestones is more of a relief than a celebration. There are so many moving parts to a transaction! We know that we can get everything right up to the week of closing and if there is some last-minute drama, we will still be judged. Its human nature. The only way to win is to nail the landing.