Here is the May article published in The Island Word:
The Future of Real Estate in BC
Do you have a favourite real estate agent? That agent that you would trust to assist you with probably the largest financial transactions you will make in your life? How did you meet that agent? Perhaps they are a relative, family friend, or former work colleague. Or perhaps you met that agent at an open house, or called that agent because he or she had a ‘for sale’ sign on a property in which you were interested? Likely, that agent is someone you ‘know, like and trust’. That is the training mantra we real estate agents have adhered to for decades. Certainly, that was the main lesson for me, when I took the mandatory week of training at the start of my real estate career in 1991. During that week we were taught to be ethical and honest – tell the truth, it’s easier to remember! We were taught to be prepared – research the area, research the property, research the community, know what you’re talking about. If you don’t know, say so, and offer to find out. Don’t make excuses – no one cares why you are late, they only know something else was more important than you being on time for your meeting with them. Learn how to qualify people – find out what they really want and can afford, and then help them find it. People will only work with you if they know you, like you and trust you. Only then, will they do business with you.
There were many more lessons, but these are the ones that have resonated with me throughout my career. Probably because these are principles which I hold dear, and which reinforce my life philosophy. I wasn’t in it for a quick buck. I was in it for the long haul, to make a career. Twenty-seven years later, I’m still here, and this is what I teach my agents.
Real estate agents are well known for being friendly and helpful. We build relationships. How can we know which property best fits your needs if we know nothing about you, your needs, your dreams, your circumstances and your financial means? It’s not because we’re nosy, it’s because we want to do our job – helping you make good decisions about real estate.
So, how will the looming changes to the interpretation of the Real Estate Services Act (RESA) affect our interactions with those interested in purchasing real estate? Here’s what I learned at a webinar last week, hosted by the Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC), and taught by the person I trust most to help me interpret the rules and regulations affecting the real estate industry. I won’t name her in this column, but her advise and interpretations are always spot on. She always tells us that her role is not to tell us what to do, but to help us interpret the rules and regulations so we can form our own policies and procedures, and so we will be in compliance with the RESA.
“You real estate agents are so good at forming relationships. Well, you’re going to have to stop that.” Say what? “When someone attends your open house, or calls you because you have a listing, don’t start asking members of the public questions.” Um… those are ‘qualification questions’. How will I know if the listing I have is the one for them if I don’t ask them some questions? “Stick to describing the features and specifications of the property.” “If a member of the public begins to voluntarily provide you with personal information, ask them to stop, and immediately go over two new forms. If you are having a phone conversation, ask for the caller’s email address so you can immediately email these forms to them, or suggest they meet you immediately so you can go over these forms.”
How will you react when the agent you meet or call responds in this manner? Welcome to the future – real estate automatons who spew facts and figures. These new forms have ‘tentative’ names, we haven’t seen them yet, but my interpretation is that we will be reading members of the public their real estate ‘Miranda Rights’ before we can enter into any meaningful conversations. Sorry – I can’t ‘read’ them to you – literally. I must find a way to get these two actual documents into your hands so you can sign them first. “No worries,” says the RECBC, “we’re developing an ‘app’ so you can easily obtain acknowledgement”. Because everyone has a smart phone nowadays, don’t they?
So, the next time you meet an agent at an open house, after June 15, and you start to tell that agent why you are looking for a home, expect that agent to interrupt, ask you to stop, read two forms, caution you that anything you say after that point may be used against you, and hopefully give you a piece of duct tape for your mouth so you won’t slip up. Now, that’s a way to get to know, like and trust, someone, don’t you think? How will these changes affect the real estate market in the future? That’s a subject for future columns!
Janet Scotland is the Managing Broker |co-owner of CENTURY 21 Arbutus Realty with offices in Campbell River, Courtenay and Gold River, BC.