I am NOT a Realtor, but I was

I am NOT a Realtor and I am not exaggerating when I say that I get asked every 2-3 weeks about my real estate career.  Here’s the story…  I worked in the pre-bubble dot-com days as a Sales Engineer for Vyvx.  I loved this job – all technology companies seemed to have more money than common sense in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I got to travel, meet executives of high profile companies, and spend crazy money at restaurants. I mean stupid money. Obviously, thanks to the likes of Enron, WorldCom, 9-11, and an inflated market, the bubble burst. After several depressing rounds of layoffs, my time came. My group was small enough that we lasted for months, but when it was time, our entire group got laid off. I was lucky enough to bounce around for a few months doing various things, but my Aunt (a local real estate broker) kept nudging me towards real estate. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to take the classes and get licensed.  (It was actually very interesting and would recommend the class to anyone who plans on ever purchasing a home.) After getting my license in January 2003, I marketed myself as Realtor for a couple of months.  However, I stopped selling real estate in March of 2003 when I got another ‘real’ job.  I simply let my license expire. I must be a genius marketer because I still get asked about real estate. In fact, I got asked by an acquaintance at a two year old’s birthday party last weekend.

I can’t say that I enjoyed my time in real estate, but I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it either – I simply didn’t do it long enough to form an opinion.  I did learn a few things to help people though. Here are some chunks of real estate knowledge you should know. Keep in mind that these are not set in stone rules, but general guidelines which you should use according to your comfort level. I’m not a lawyer, just some guy who let his real estate license expire.

  • In Oklahoma, Realtor Associates are independent contractors — they are not agents. Even though state law requires a broker to hold an associate’s license, they actually work for themselves. So, don’t let one tell you their commission is fixed. Yes, it’s true that some Realtors are bound by their brokers, but most have the capability to lower their commission by a certain percentage. In fact, most Realtors will tell you their commission is 7% but they will lower it to 6%. Ask for 5% or 5.5% and see what happens.

  • It’s true that the Realtor who lists your house has to split the commission with the Realtor who brings the buyer. During your listing meeting, it is perfectly acceptable to negotiate a variable rate commission. That means that you will pay the 6% (or whatever) if the Realtors split it, but you will pay a lower rate if your listing Realtor also brings the buyer.

  • Don’t let your Realtor persuade you into accepting an offer if you’re not comfortable with it. Consider this example: Your bottom line is $110,000, but your Realtor is pushing a $105,000 offer. If you pay 6%, then the difference you pay in commission is only $300. This is negligible amount and the Realtor won’t want to do the extra paperwork or risk losing the deal for a measly $300 which has to be split anyway. However, this “negligible” amount to the Realtor would net you $4,700 dollars in your pocket.

  • Consider selling your house yourself. Set a time limit that you will try to sell it, then if you’re not having much luck, call a Realtor. A good closing company can actually guide you through the process and let you know what to do every step of the way. You shouldn’t have to pay anything additional, but standard closing fees will still apply.  You can’t simply stick a sign in your yard and pray that it sells.  You must market your home inside and out.

    • Clean your house, de-clutter it, mow, paint, do whatever it takes to give it curb appeal and make it homey. It’s a good idea to invite a neutral advisor to walk through your home and point out the good and the bad. Don’t take the comments personally, they’re there to help. There are people who stage homes for a living. Check out http://www.simplystagedhomes.comfor one local professional stager.

    • Create an attractive flier and place copies in a flier tube in your yard. Create a website. List your home on www.craigslist.org every week and link to your website.  Consider fee based services like Yahoo Real Estate.

    • By the way, it’s not a good idea to show your house alone. Hide your medications and anything valuable.

  • Finally, if you decide you want to use a Realtor, I recommend my aunt who got me into this business. Gloria Allred has been a Realtor in the Tulsa area for over 35 years. She has seen it all. She is a broker for Coldwell Banker and manages their South-Tulsa office. Give her a call at 918-521-3440 or email her at allredg@cbtulsa.com.

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