Scenario: You have your house on the market and want potential buyers to come by to see it. You want the agent to show it, however, while you are not there. Suddenly the doorbell rings, the buyers are on the doorstep. Seems like a great scenario, right? You wanted people to come look, and those people have now arrived. But something’s missing. Their agent. And he’s the one who made the appointment.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” notes Kevin Leatherman, owner/broker of Leatherman Homes, who has been immersed in the Long Island real estate industry for more than three decades and has been called upon to fix many scenarios just like the one above.
It is a cautionary tale, in a way, demonstrating that even in these current conditions, where real estate markets are still favoring sellers and certain media outlets may make it seem like anyone can simply sell a house without any effort at all, partnering with an expert is essential. Their advice and experience can prove invaluable.
“Part of my job is navigating and dealing agents who come in all different levels,” Leatherman, continues. “Some are professionals and on point, some I have to deal with a circus environment. But this is the typical day of an agent. Half my job is really knowing how to navigate and work with other agents. Because they come in all different sizes and shapes and cultures and languages and styles of doing business and negotiating.”
Such a point can often be lost on, or at least overlooked by, homeowners who have decided the time has come to put their house on the market. Negotiating and managing the myriad aspects and phases of selling a property is not only challenging, but is a job for which true pros exist. Attempting to go it alone, or not doing due diligence in selecting your agent, can come at a cost. That begins the moment you decide to list, and it does not get easier when the offers start coming in. Sometimes, an expert will know, these “offers” are no such thing at all.
“I happen to be a very flexible person, I can be very, very nice, but I know the rules and I can be extremely firm and deal with things that have to be dealt with,” Leatherman says. “It’s like, when an agent gives you an offer in one sentence in an email, I’m like, ‘That’s not a written offer. You don’t have the closing date, you don’t have the down payment, you don’t have what type of mortgage.’ It’s not a complete offer—it’s a nice thought.”
“I’ve had agents tell me ‘I’m not going to write an offer if the seller’s not interested, not going to be agreeable to take my offer—I don’t want to waste my time writing it,’” he continues. “And I say, ‘Well, my sellers are visual people, they want to see the offer in writing and understand it in its entirety, so that they can then respond as to what they think about it.’
“So meanwhile I’m having this debate with an agent and I’m like, you’ve got to be kidding me here. We want to see what the offer is, we want it in writing. We want to know who’s buying, how much they’re paying, down payment, mortgage amount, type of mortgage, when they want to move—when they want to move is a pretty critical component. So how do you just throw a number on the table? That, to me, is not a professional negotiation. That, to me, is ludicrous.”
Another scenario, another cautionary tale. Prospective buyers for a cooperative say they have a preapproval from a mortgage company. Sounds great, right? The seller’s representative then calls the lender for some verification. Turns out that mortgage company doesn’t actually write mortgages for cooperatives, so they’re not going to have the money for the closing.
And it turns out that not every agent would have even made such a call.
“You have to make sure the mortgage paperwork matches what the property is, that the lender can lend on that property for the purpose everybody is intending, or else we’re all wasting our time,” says Leatherman. “But this is the type of work I have to do in dealing with other agents to make things happen. Other agents might just say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s Quicken, I know who they are, it’s a pre-approval.’ But they would never call, they would just say la-la-la-la-la. But I want to make sure the person is vetted. It’s just basic business common sense 101.”
Learn more about Kevin Leatherman and Leatherman Homes at leathermanhomes.com.