One of the touchstones for the Realtor’s Commissioner Standards is the concept of the “Golden Rule.” Treat others as we would like to be treated. Or, more succinctly, be kind. Something our parents told us, and we pass on to our kids. This concept is extremely appropriate when it comes to real estate sales transactions.
A real estate contract is a framework of rules to which all parties must adhere, a legally binding process, if you will. The parties involved in a contract, the buyers and sellers, are generally people who don’t know each other, embarking together on one of the most major emotional and financial events of their lives.
Moving and selling or buying a house is considered to be in the top 10 major stressors in life, just below death of a loved one, divorce or separation, getting married and starting a new job. Realtors serve as trusted advisors to represent, list and market properties on behalf of sellers, and represent and write purchase offers on the buyer’s behalf. Lenders contract with buyers to fund their home purchases and have their own team of underwriters and processors. Title agency officers and staff act as the hub of a transaction, ensuring all points of the contract are followed by both buyers and sellers, as well as issuing title insurance for the buyer’s lender and the buyer on the property, prorating taxes, HOA fees and so much more. Appraisals of the property are generally ordered by lenders working with buyers, as underwriters funding of property value must be substantiated.
Home, pest, radon, HVAC, roof, plumbing inspectors can be hired by buyers to learn about items important to them during their inspection and due diligence period. Handymen, general contractors, electrical and plumbing, HVAC contractors and all other trades are vital in assisting sellers to remediate any defects they agree to repair during a transaction.
The buyers, sellers, their realtors and other affiliated professionals work together as a cohesive team. Once both buyers and sellers agree to the purchase price and terms and sign the offer, it’s transformed into a legally binding contract.
So what does this have to do with the Golden Rule? Everything.
Real estate transactions, like everything else, have the potential for becoming contentious. Fear of loss, being disrespected or not understood can escalate from emotion to action, and cause harm to all involved. Realtors and their affiliates strive to negotiate on behalf of their clients to keep the transaction moving to close. Success is when the buyer moves into the house they love and sellers move on with their lives.
Skillful negotiation is not “them against us” or “win-lose.” Negotiation is calmly piloting through obstacles, sometimes creatively, so both buyers and sellers achieve their goals, as in “win-win.” Like any good relationship, there is give and take or compromise with goodwill among all participants.
If you are a seller, before you list your home, prepare it for a potential buyer by providing maintenance if your home needs it. Consider an overall spring cleaning in preparation for excited new buyers. Ask your realtor for a comparative market analysis to price your home in a range that is competitive for the current market. Provide full and detailed property disclosure about any issues you are aware of and, conversely, why you love your home. Thank your buyer for his or her interest in your home. The buyer probably has seen many homes and chose yours. Compliment the buyer on his or her good taste. Wish your buyer well and enjoyment in the home that has given you comfort and safety.
If you are a buyer, be respectful of sellers’ homes and emotions. Write a letter to the sellers to let them know more about you and why you have chosen their home. Some sellers have lived in their homes for many years and it may be difficult to say goodbye to the place that holds wonderful memories. Thank your sellers for doing a great job maintaining it through the years. Wish them well in their travels to something wonderful.
I recall a buyer writing to the seller months after the sale. It was spring and she wrote to thank her for planting the beautiful red and yellow tulips bulbs outside her kitchen window. A small gesture that was very meaningful to the seller.
To sum up, a real estate transaction, by nature, is stressful, no matter how smoothly the process goes. Buyers are making big decisions, and both buyers and sellers are moving boxes and deciding what to keep and what to recycle. Change is inevitable, but not always easy or painless. Realtors and an associated team of affiliates work together to smooth those rough edges and keep the process moving. My experience in Flagstaff is that local realtors, our NAAR association, lenders, title officers and their staff, inspectors and all other trades are some of the most compassionate and kind people to work with. I am proud to be part of their group. In the end, we are all just people helping people. Be kind. FBN
By Paula Mack
Paula Mack is a realtor with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty. She can be reached at 928-699-6837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.