We Need to See the Real in Real Estate


Real estate advertising would have you think that the story goes something like this:

Homeowner gets a promotion, immediately wants a bigger and better house. Calls real estate broker who runs over that day, gives homeowner a price on the spot, contract pre-filled so homeowner just has to sign. Real estate broker whips out her phone, takes pictures, and uploads listing that night. Next day, numerous buyers appear and make offers, seller gets to choose the highest one. One and done, and the whole thing took 2 days. Or so real estate advertising would have you believe. “Sold over asking in 2 days!”

That seller is now a buyer and can shop, smiles all around, for a bigger and better house.

Sure, this happens, sometimes. In my almost 10 years of experience though? Most homeowners are selling because they have to: they’ve lost a job, got transferred, have passed away, are divorcing, can no longer live alone, can no longer take care of their home, need to be closer to family to give or receive help, or need to downsize because they can’t afford their home or lifestyle any longer.

There is no glory in the selling here. There may be relief for the homeowners and satisfaction or fulfillment for the real estate broker, but it will take time to get there, lots and lots of time. And in that time? The real estate broker may work with the homeowners or family for many, many months, listening, advising, encouraging, researching, mediating, reassuring, more listening, sharing information and resources, providing direction and guidance, more reassuring, more listening, hugging, and helping in whatever way they can.

The culmination of those months of collaboration may be a listing, and that listing may sell quickly in the end because of the months of proper, informed preparation.

But this is not a sale. This is a life transformation. And when we depict real estate as being all about rainbows and $$$, it’s a disservice to the industry. More importantly, it’s a disservice to you, a regular human being considering a big life transformation and understandably feeling worried and scared about it.

A good real estate broker will dive into the deep water with you, and let you spend the time you need there among the urgent waves. But they will also work steadily to gently guide you back up and through, to the peaceful bay where the water is once again calm and warm.

There is always a way up and out, and it is that journey and transformation that defines our work and, indeed, what keeps many of us in the business.