You know I love a good debate. I don’t like when it starts with, Sounds like sour grapes from someone who is experiencing disintermediation. Deal with it. Adapt. Quit whining. It made me want to verbally punch him in the face. After days of heated conversation, with many participating voices, I realized by my last lengthy comment that I had much more to say about the topics that were covered. I spent 20 minutes outlining four pages of what will probably end up being food for many blogs. The gist of the argument and retort is one that brings out the defensive lineman in me: the value – or not – that I bring to my clients and profession. I’m sick of defending myself, my industry, and especially my commission. I expect that my statements will do nothing different than in the past which is to create a firestorm of conversation. The more, the better. So stand back. This storm’s been brewing for a long time. There are many services we provide as real estate agents: concrete, educational, emotional, financial, legal, liability, technological.
The most crucial piece that insures the existence of the industry I love may be what I bring to the client who is wrapped in the emotion of purchasing or selling a home. It’s not the building. It’s the dream. It’s the sanctuary. It’s the place where we celebrate, where we congregate, where we love, where we share our lives and create memories. The trauma is what causes us all to regress. It’s the same feeling we get when we go to the dentist, doctor’s office or hospital. We put on the gown and become so vulnerable that it becomes almost unbearable to stay present. Our hands sweat. We tremble. Our blood pressure jumps.
While filling out the loan application for my first house, I couldn’t remember my social security number – I memorized it when I was 15. What the heck was happening? I never believed they would give me the money. I was in so much denial that I didn’t believe it until I walked through the front door. I clearly remember standing in the doorway looking left, looking up and looking right. Just standing there in amazement that I had made this happen and it was mine.
It’s a foreign process where the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. A commitment that will last longer than most marriages. A financial expenditure that can be an enormous risk and an unimaginable reward. The transaction is an emotional one, not practical. We think about this process from our hearts, not from our heads. Oftentimes, buyers are buying the home that reminds them of the one they grew up in. Can I raise my children here? Will we be safe? Am I making the right decision? Sellers are selling the home they raised their children in. When they leave, they leave a piece of themselves. They want to know: Does the buyer love my home? Will they take care of it like I did?
Stress intensifies the fear and personality characteristics. People can become infantile, sarcastic, cunning, needy, insecure, funny, goofy, grumpy, mean, passive-aggressive, even stupid – as in: What’s my social security number??
I become the nanny, mommy, friend – the ultimate supporter. I kiss the boo-boo and encourage them across the finish line. I remind them of their goal when the disappointment is too much. I prepare them for what’s to come, warning them of the pitfalls and traps ahead.
Yesterday I left my clients in the conference room too long while I went to make a copy. They came looking for me. “We missed you.” These are highly educated, intelligent adults. The next time I left the room, I promised I wouldn’t be gone as long as before. That’s regression. That’s insecurity. That requires compassion, empathy and reassurance. That’s real estate.