Monday, June 01, 2009

Your Dark Secrets: What We Won't Blog About

by Osman Parvez

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You learn a lot about people when you help them buy or sell a house. Because the process can be revealing, we often end up knowing a great deal of personal information about our clients; the sources of their income, religious beliefs, family quarrels, prejudices, fetishes, you name it. It's saucy stuff and blogging about it would definitely boost readership. The reason we don't is because we believe it's our responsibility to protect our client's confidentiality and privacy. Even stories sanitized of identifying information could leave our clients feeling as if they'd been violated. It's a "no go" area for this blog.

A real estate colleague once joked that she felt like she was playing therapist to her clients. Like an only child in the middle of a difficult divorce, she found herself pulled into the arguments. Real estate is often the largest investment in a family's portfolio and finances a common area of conflict in relationships, so it's not unusual that stresses emerge during the process.

Sometimes couples think they're on the same page, but through the process of finding their "dream" home, they discover a key difference of opinion. In other situations, such as when a decision must be made to sell a family estate, adult children often have different priorities and levels of emotional attachment. We don't play therapist with our clients, but if helpful, will act as a reasonable sounding board. We've found we can sometimes facilitate moving past disagreements, helping our clients engage in more constructive discussions. Often it's helpful for these couples/families to hear that a certain level of stress or conflict is typical. They aren't alone or abnormal.

For those of you considering agents, here's a tip: Until you've chosen your agent, be cautious. Revealing information in the interview stages may later compromise your negotiation. This is yet another reason why it's so important to choose your agent carefully. For a seller, switching agents mid stream has a cost - the former agent knows a great deal about your situation. If you drop them for another, and the first agent later brings a buyer, you're starting your negotiation from a potentially compromised position. For a buyer, the process to find the right home and negotiate a great deal sometimes takes months. If you switch, you're starting all over again with an agent who really doesn't know you very well and it will take them some time to get up to speed.

If you've chosen your agent carefully and are under contract with them (listing agreement or buyer agency), here in Colorado your agent has a fiduciary responsibility towards you. As a client, they must act in your best interest.

Once under contract with an agent, if you've chosen carefully, go ahead and tell them information that will help achieve your goals. Trust in the client-agent relationship is mandatory if you want a high level of service. It's terribly difficult to advise a client who doesn't trust you. When you choose a professional, confidentiality and discretion come with the package.

Naturally, not everything we learn is tabloid fodder. But to our clients, it can still be personal and confidential information. Since we don't know what is and what isn't, we treat everything as confidential.

If you'd like to further discuss how we help clients achieve their real estate goals, call me at 303.746.6896.

p.s. Sometimes agents find themselves in a situation where they have a relationship with both buyer and seller, and in this case, they must notify both parties of relationship in writing. These situations are rare but it's worth knowing about the potential arising before it happens so you can plan accordingly. Agents in Colorado are also required by law to present a disclosure of working relationship at your first meeting.

image: debaird


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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

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