What is a hand-crafted real estate experience? Isn’t “hand-crafted” a description of something more often associated with making a chair, a cup of coffee, or building a home? How does “hand-crafted” apply to buying or selling a home?
The Coffee Experience
I like coffee. A lot.
A great cup of coffee is a thing of beauty. The over-roasted, burnt coffee served at one of America’s biggest coffee chains is good for little more than getting caffeine into the system. However, walk into many of the unique, one-off coffee shops across the country, and you will find a unique practice the baristas have taken up.
Here in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area, you can wander into any number of these coffee shops, order a cup of coffee and get what is called a pour-over. But before you even get to the physical act of creating your cup of coffee, the barista will likely have asked and advised you on the actual coffee bean that they will grind and brew for you.
For me, I like ordering a pour-over cup of coffee. There is one coffee shop in particular that I enjoy frequenting. They know me, so the question I get is, “To-go or here?” However, if you were to roll into this coffee shop with me, the barista would ask what coffee you like to drink. Based on your answer, they would suggest a coffee that they serve. If it is not the drip coffee of the day, they set to grinding the beans for your cup of coffee.
Once ground, the barista then places the grinds in a coffee filter, suspended above your empty cup. The barista then grabs a small-ish tea-pot looking contraption, and begins to pour hot water over the coffee grounds.
The whole process takes a little longer than just grabbing a cup of the already brewed coffee, but the pour-over process seems to capture more characteristics of the bean itself. For me, this means that the french-roast that I routinely get, has a smoother, almost creamy texture.
The Real Estate Experience
While I don’t think that I could ever state the real estate experience could become creamy and smooth, how real estate is commonly practiced now is rather depersonalized. Buyers search the internet for real estate that they believe fits their needs and that they can afford. Upon finding a home that meets their criteria, they fill out some contact information and maybe get a response to their questions. If an agent replies to any inquiry, it could easily be the listing agent looking to stand on either side of the sale; representing the buyer and the seller. This process is begun by a buyer simply attempting to learn more about the buying process; either the property itself or next steps in the buying process.
A hand-crafted buying experience begins with an agent listening to the buyer needs and wants. Not pushing the agent’s own inventory of homes they are representing, but listening to what it is the buyer needs and desires in their next home. After uncovering what it is that buyers want, the agent turns to the multiple listing system to craft a search with the criteria the buyers requested and talked through with their agent. Any veteran agent will have some tips and pointers for buyers to consider, as their criteria are reviewed. Walking through each step of the transaction, from searching to closing, should be filled with communication with the buyer and education of the market conditions and how they affect the buyers. For example, I will point out in a buyer’s market, that the possibility of negotiating the sales price down from the list price is a strong possibility. Therefore, if my buyer expresses a desire to keep the sales price below $200,000, I may suggest we look at homes up to $205,000, with the full knowledge that we may be able to negotiate the price below the $200,000 ceiling. Of course, this is not something I do without talking about with, and getting approval from, the buyer.
The selling experience can be nearly as depersonalized, if not more so. It’s an odd dynamic, but sellers have the inventory that agents want (to list and sell) and need (to bring buyers to). Yet, some of the practices of listing agents makes one believe that they are the key to the whole process. For example, the “For Sale” sign. While it serves to put the public on notice that this one particular piece of property is for sale, the bigger benefit goes to the listing agent. That sign carries exactly no information about your home, but all the information needed to contact the listing agent. So, when a potential buyer rings the number on the sign, either the listing agent becomes a dual agent (“representing” both sides on the sale of your home), or the agent has captured that buyer’s contact information with the prospect of future sales with that buyer. In either case, I will argue, this is not putting the seller’s interests first.
And before someone loses their mind about whether a specific marketing tactic works or not, that is not my point. My point is that many of the “marketing” practices that agents employ, benefit themselves, before the seller’s interests.
Hand-crafting the selling experience begins in a similar fashion to the buying experience: listening. If your agent is doing the majority of the talking, without pause or consideration for your needs, concerns and desires, then the chances are good that they are not listening and understanding your goals in this sale. Upon evaluating the seller’s needs, typically a combination of time, money, and convenience, the selling agent should make recommendations and suggestions that help the seller meet their stated needs. In addition to evaluating and helping assess the seller’s goals, a hand-crafted selling experience also has the agent educating, guiding, and dispelling myths for the seller. All of this is towards the end of helping the seller attain their goals in selling their home.