I think due to my recent blog post on home inspectors, the ICA contact me to do a professional interview. Since I spent the time to do it, I thought I would share the unedited version here.
Maybe I should edit it a bit first, but this is what a rough draft looks like coming off of my keyboard. Hopefully there is nothing controversial, embarrassing, or completely unintelligible here. I have a tendency to use commas when I would be better off rewording the whole sentence.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to where you currently are professionally with TEN Realty Group?
I started in the business officially on January 1, 2004. I spent most of my first 10 years working in a locally owned Coldwell Banker office. It was a small office that operated in many ways like a boutique office, but with a franchise name and franchise fees. Starting in 2014 I knew it was time to start something new and I spent a number of months researching options, and leaving very few stones unturned. These choices ranged from joining Redfin to becoming a developer in Boise. The option that worked the best for me was to join eXp Realty, and form TEN Realty Group. eXp Realty gives me the flexibility to own my own business, but takes care of the bulk of the back end needs that a brokerage has.
Working with such an innovative company freed me up to start my own brand. The name TEN came from the philosophy of tithing. At TEN, we donate a full 10% of our revenue back to local charities, because we believe that real estate is more than just houses, it’s about where we live.
The website refers to you as the Agent in a Kilt? How did that get started?
The kilt actually came before I got into real estate. I started wearing a Utilikilt brand kilt full time back in 2001. When I decided to embark on my second career as a Realtor, I had the choice to either dress as “normal” people do, or use it to my advantage. Obviously I chose the later, because I did decide to brand myself as the Agent In A Kilt. And since then have become the most recognized Realtor in the Universe (google it).
How is the world of real estate changing?
That is a very big question. The most obvious of changes is the way business is different due to emerging technologies. The internet obviously changed the way every business operated, and has challenged every industry from the Travel Business, virtually making travel agents a close to extinct class, to Taxi Cabs and Hotels due to Uber and AirBnB type websites.
Is this a bad or a good thing becomes the question. And I believe overall one has to recognize technology as a good thing. There are many innovators out there right now dissecting the real estate world, and trying to figure out how to make it better. But with all of the websites and development money that has gone into real estate technology, it has been found that the role of the Realtor is vital to the vast majority of consumers. It is too big of a choice and too important of a life decision to not have a professional who knows the ropes to help you out. And the good Realtors have a team or trusted partners, such as proven lenders and home inspectors, that can be the difference between a good experience and a bad one.
What is the importance of home inspectors to real estate agents?
The Realtor has their role in a transaction. But they are not experts in all fields. And the liability that would fall on them if they tried to be the inspector, accountant, attorney, etc… would be huge. So having a selection of trusted home inspectors is a must in any good Realtor’s tool kit. A 3rd party that the buyer knows is responsible only for determining the soundness of the home and it’s components is vital.
It is the Realtor’s responsibility in my opinion to recommend the best inspectors possible. Ones that find the issues, report on them accurately, and can explain to the buyer the significance of them. One of my trusted inspectors tells a story about me to my clients. Basically he recounts a time when an inspection came out that showed significant issues with the house, and it was going to “kill” the deal. And I mentioned to my inspector that if he didn’t occasionally “kill” a deal for me, that I would probably quit hiring him. I want the inspector to give the potential buyer the real scoop about the house.
That being said, the inspector does not need to be alarmist. The best inspectors recognize that the majority of houses they inspect are pre-owned, and that anyone who has ever owned a house before knows…there is work and maintenance that needs to be done regularly. And a good inspector can point out what is regular and needed maintenance and “normal wear and tear”, and what is structural, destructive or dangerous.
What do you think that those home inspectors should know about home sellers and buyers?
Sellers have gotten used to the way things are in their house, and that some items an inspector might call out just don’t seem important to the home seller. A good example is the GFCI plugs in the kitchen and bathroom. The seller’s have not been electrocuted, so it is an unimportant item to them at times. And that is just one example.
Buyers are another matter. Inspectors need to be aware that the buyer is in a super acutely aware state during the home buying process. And thus items are super important to them at that time, that later will be no big deal. When items are new to a person, the brain takes note of details, like road noise or a particular smell. But as the brain becomes accustomed to these kind of items it forgets they exist. That is why the seller can think something is no big deal, and a buyer can feel it is critical.
The inspector should be able to recognize fears that are irrational at the time from critical needs. Ask questions and find out what the buyer really is concerned about and make sure to address those items.
What do you think are the things most people don’t know about inspecting a home for sale?
The the home inspector is just a step one inspector. A general, and not specialized inspector. People expect the inspector to be able to find items that are not readily visible and be slightly psychic. They think they will do things like see what’s behind the wood panelling, or determine if the vinyl siding is covering up wood rot. I believe all home inspectors should highly recommend or even provide some form of home warranty coverage to their clients. Because items can be missed, or water heaters will fail the day after closing.
What is the most challenging part of a career in real estate?
Oh man, that varies per person. Some agents are great at paperwork, and have limited people skills. Some are great at finding new clients, but have no idea how to solve problems that arise in the middle of a deal.
To me though, the most challenging part is prospecting for new clients. I have a good basis of referral business from past clients, but nurturing that and also finding new clients is a struggle.
I am a top negotiator, know how to problem solve, and really take good care of my clients when we are actively working together. And that is what I enjoy doing. And unless I force myself to continue to look for new business, I will focus all of my energies on my current clients.
What is the most rewarding part of the career?
There seems no way to avoid cliches with that question. The obvious answer is that helping people with this important decision and process is very rewarding. For me it is deeper than that. I genuinely put myself in my client’s shoes, (figuratively, not literally). And I spend a large amount of time learning and teaching so I have the best set of tools available at my disposal to be able to assist my clients in achieving the goals they have. And when I know I have solved a problem that would have tanked most transactions, or had a person say to me that they thought buying a house was really hard because they had heard horror stories, and through my help it all was smooth and painless. That is rewarding.
Please share with us anything that you think has contributed to your success in real estate. What are some of the things that you have learned along the way?
The first contribution to my success in real estate was actually my first career. I worked in the Motion Pictures production business, and through that learned how to relate to all kinds of personalities, and the importance of getting things done…and getting them done now.
Humor is my number one tool. It is the best way to display intelligence without being seen a putz. Look at the success that Jon Stewart had with the Daily Show. He could say things because of the humor that other “newscasters” could never have gotten away with.
One of the things I have learned is that it really does take putting together the best team possible. And with a good team of inspectors, lenders, title officers, cooperating Realtors, etc….the process of home buying and selling can seem very easy to the consumer.
Which in itself is a double edged sword. Because then they tend to wonder what they needed you for. But real estate is like many other fields. As long as you do your job right, nobody notices. It’s when things go wrong that you stand out.
That I guess is one of the brilliant parts of wearing a kilt, or tithing 10% of your revenue to charity. It is a way to stand out, without screwing things up.
Thanks so much. Finally, would you also be able to include a photo of you that we can use with the article? Also, if you’d like us to link to our social media accounts at the end of the article, please include links to all the social media accounts you’d like us to link.