Real Estate, Stress? Uncertainty? Hectic? Insanity!

Real estate is a hard business — I have had many followers ask why haven’t I posted any content lately. This is more difficult than newbies understand, and certainly harder than most of our friends, family and clients understand. The image we portray on social media is often one of success. We post ourselves at closings and posting signs in the ground. Sometimes, we post the harder stuff, but many times, that is meant to be funny more than reality. It keeps us and I clients sane.

When representing our Seller’s, both of us are stressed. This is across the board. Agents are stressed too, how in the world do we (fairly) handle a new listing that generates 40 plus open house visitors, 15 private showings and 16 offers in a 48-hour period? (This is a true example — no exaggerations.)

In this past year of COVID-19, it has gotten harder, not easier. We made it through lock downs only to be hit with frantic buyers chasing a huge shortage of inventory. Buyer’s and we as agents are stressed. We’re searching for the ideal home that’s not on the market and submitting offer after offer that lose out in bidding wars. We are counseling frustrated buyers and trying to find off-market properties. We are working with buyers lenders, our buyers with strategies, and adding Escalatory Addendums to undermine buyers agent not seasoned for this environment.

Now I have 15 unhappy buyers and their agents!  Someone may accuse us of wrongdoing or of favoring someone over their own exceptionally fine offer. How do we even keep track of 55 people walking through an open house during a pandemic?

In short, we are all stressed. While some agents and sellers may be concentrating on virus safety, health, and sanitation issues, few are talking about the mental stress in this business.

In our office, January through March has been extremely stressful. It is strange, but it feels more stressful than a year ago when we first locked down. Back then, there was panic and uncertainty. We shut everything to be cautious and then learned how to deal with it. We learned how to do business in a pandemic. 

Now, the stress feels different. The extreme lack of inventory, has agents in total panic mode. Not “I’m going to catch the virus panic” but “I don’t understand how to find a house for these buyers” panic. This is different. Lack of inventory is leading to stress due to the bidding wars we see. Buyers are giving up inspections (not recommended), bidding thousands of dollars over asking (will it appraise?) and pushing us out of their comfort zone. 

The past three months I’ve had to be a friend, counselor and confidant more times than normal as a Realtor. I see a trend in the calls, though, and here are a few tips on how to cut the stress down a bit. It’s my job to get you, the seller to the finish line. But as a seller you are still responsible for your end of the deal.

For example, I have a seller list their house, and a relative is living there. We dissect all the offers, we define our terms, and now have a closing date set 45 days out. Come 45 days, your relative must be moved out. That’s in the contract. If the relative is not moving out, that’s on you the seller, not the buyer’s agent or listing agent.

If you the seller couldn’t make him or her move, then you shouldn’t have listed the house for sale. We have a problem, but it’s not the Realtors responsibility to find the relative a new place to live. “I have stepped in, in my past life to help out but it’s not our responsibility to find that relative a new place to live. We did our job, and now it’s on you the seller to make it happen.

Yes, this is a real example of our sleepless nights and stress because we stepped in and could not find a place for the relative to move. We did two contract closing extensions before the buyer threw in the towel.

My response and my experience in today’s market is to never list if the a seller isn’t honest with me and couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain. The buyer bought in good faith and the seller failed to remove the occupant and close.

Everyone lost, the buyer, the seller and we the agents. We were all lucky the buyer didn’t sue for specific performance. But as the listing agent, it is not my role to find a new place for the relative. It was to sell the house.  YES as Realtors, we are experiencing and feeling the stress of our customers in this brutal market.

COVID-19 has blurred boundaries. What day is it? What time? We tend to work longer hours, and clients don’t always recognize it’s a weekend or holiday or after hours. We too have coaches, and counselors and urged to set limits early with their clients. We cannot be available 24/7. In my early years as a Realtor, I overachieved to make everyone happy and to make a deal happen. We can’t do this now and keep focused on successful results.

If my staff or I answer a client’s call at 9 or 10 p.m., you will expect it to move forward. If someone texts us at 11 p.m. and we reply, you will think it is acceptable to do this in the future. In our weekly staff and sales meetings, we are urged to set limits early.  That’s why we are RE/MAX and outsell every other brokerage two to one!

Even if we receive a late-night email or text message, it’s not something we must immediately replay to. I had an angry seller call me one Sunday because his agent didn’t reply quickly. He said he knew she was busy, but he wanted guidance right now. The agent had told him she was unavailable that Sunday because it was her child’s birthday and instead of understanding, he called me and her broker to complain about her unavailability.

Please understand we have your best interest in mind, and we want everyone to maximize their results. It maybe my transaction coordinator, or a staff member that wants to go over and above to meet your expectations but this market is brutal and we ALL must keep our calm!  

As a buyer, can you always reach out and connect to your lender, appraiser, inspection team? Rarely will this happen. We will return calls and emails promptly, but we need to set boundaries when we are offline. Please understand we cannot reply to a midnight text as if it’s life or death. It more than likely can wait till morning. Texting while with our family, or decompressing can usually wait until morning. Texting while with family at a restaurant or other venues is not courtesy, “we all see it in restaurants, movies or even under the covers while our partner sleeps cause more stress and is more nonproductive than you, our customers can afford or comprehend at times. Please be courtesy and understanding.

We work for months (or years) finding the perfect place for someone. We get the property under contract. We are moving to closing — and it all falls apart. People point fingers and blame us for the fiasco. We do our best to prepare you, we promised to be diligent, we have been completely honest, and used our best strategies to make this deal happen.

This is a business deal, and it falls apart. No matter what words are thrown around or what you our buyers or sellers accuses us of, please understand, step back for a moment. This is not personal; we too try to analyze the situation clinically. We step away, we share the journey with our staff and fellow agents. Did anyone indeed screwed up, did we fail somehow, we do our best and honestly try to take a more analytical approach.

You the buyer may be angry and stop using us to find a house. The seller may fire us. No matter what happens, we are seasoned, we too learn from the experience! This market has 50 maybe 100 buyers all with the same goal in mind. We are experiencing an incredible amount of offers, highly creative offers, cash offers with no contingencies, present “As Is offers, nothing in this current market is certain.  

For buyers, sellers, even fellow colleagues, we must shut down the “what ifs” blaming someone and move on. There is no positive outcome that will happen from rolling the experience over and over in our brain and laying there at night flogging ourselves for missteps. Let it go. Move on. Yes, this is easier said than done for us to b e productive for our clients, this practice is a must!