Just the other day, it happened again.
I ended up face to face with a real estate myth I thought had been debunked out of existence in the last century.
And yet, there I was in a popular "resto," waiting for my lunch companion and half listening to the two articulate couples chatting at the table behind me, when I heard it.
Like so many of us today, the two couples were raising lots of questions about what was up in the real estate market and concerns they had regarding what to do next with their homes. Then, one of them said: "I'd love to get the low-down on all of this from a realtor, but I'm afraid they'd end up selling me something."
Mumbled agreement from the others ended their discussion.
Is that how you feel?
Do you shy away from asking a real estate professional about real estate because you think they may talk you into something you do not want to do?
If you don't ask real estate professionals about real estate, who are you going to ask? Your best friend? Your grocer? Google? Siri?
Ask anyone or any digital thing about real estate and you'll get an answer.
Everyone has opinions. Every digital resource from search engines to artificial intelligence technology can always spit out links to matching keywords.
But the real question is, "Are you receiving answers you can rely on because the information is directly relevant to your personal situation and your specific real estate requirements?"
Real estate professionals are among the few professionals who do not usually charge for answering questions or explaining real estate issues or terminology. Why not take advantage of this opportunity to enlighten yourself and verify the reliability of what you've picked up online?
In the process of chatting with professionals, you'll probably meet a few you trust to understand your situation. When you're ready to buy or sell, you will probably choose one of them to help.
When preparing to talk real estate, clarify exactly what you want to know and why you want to know it. Here are Six Conversation Starting Points to adapt to your situation and the real estate conversations you'd like to have:
1. Do you want to know specific facts about real estate?
If it's factual information, like how listings or mortgages work, ask away and take notes. There is too much false or out-dated information online. Before savvy buyers and sellers act, they verify, with an experienced real estate expert or two, the accuracy of what has been discovered online.
2. Are you after details on your choices if you decide to sell or buy in the next six months versus next year?
Answers to queries like these would blend fact and opinion. Not even real estate professionals know exactly what will happen in six months, never mind next year. They can tell you what appears to lie ahead in the short term and what real estate forecasters project ahead. The key to understanding real estate is exploring how real estate market values are locally influenced relative to your specific property. That interpretation is what real estate professionals can help you with. Ultimately, you'll need to arrive at your own opinion of the economy and what may evolve, so talk to a few professionals to sample a cross-section of perspectives.
3. Do you want to know what's going to happen with interest rates?
Amazingly, real estate professionals do not know exactly what is going to happen to interest rates over the months and years ahead. They do understand the financial services industries and monitor economic patterns, so some may feel confident offering educated guesses in the short term. Many will explain what the current situation is, what the implications are for possible changes, and include other details which would provide you with background to form your own opinion relative to your situation.
4. If you're not social media or tech savvy, don't shy away from talking to real estate professionals who are both.
They may be very useful in helping you understand the advantages and disadvantages of online real estate sources and using calculators and other digital tools, relative to your real estate ownership. Just keep in mind that they are busy professionals working hard for their clients, and they are not teachers. Since most are committed to helping consumers receive the information they need to make confident decisions, real estate professionals often have suggestions on third-party resources that can help demystify online real estate content and online practices.
5. If you don't know whether you can afford the next real estate step you'd like to take, don't shy away from talking to real estate professionals.
Real estate professionals are not debt counselors, investment advisors, or estate planners, but they do understand how real estate and money fit together. Most are very good problem solvers and creative thinkers, who have well-developed resource networks to call on. They will each have had different experiences with income-generation, co-ownership, and other real estate options. All this adds up to a lot of possibilities, so your persistence pays off.
6. If don't know exactly what you want to do next, don't shy away from talking to real estate professionals.
Most of them concentrate on specific neighborhoods and consumer lifestyles, so when you discover a professional who'd consider you a match for their expertise, they may guide you in your search for choices. Again, talk to several for a range of ideas and experience. We are all pioneers in this never-before-in-history time. Make sure you avoid assumptions and explore all available options. Perhaps, you'll invent one or two for yourself. Look for those who feed your curiosity with their own.
The vast majority of real estate professionals are honest, hardworking people who are eager to assist you. That said, and in view of the encouragement above, I add a note of caution: In every profession, there are wide ranges of professionalism, ethics, commitment to developing expertise, focus on staying current, and honesty. The real estate industry is no different.
Always act in your own best interest. Take notes or record conversations for future reference. Meet in the real estate brokerage, so you gain first-hand experience with the business supporting the real estate professional. Protect your personal information and privacy. When in doubt or if you feel uncomfortable, leave. These usually-short conversations should be enlightening and enjoyable.