Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Should Your Real Estate Agent Provide an Opinion?

Your real estate agent should be your local expert.   Part of being an expert is the ability to know when you don't have the answer.  In those cases your real estate agent should become the "source of the source."
Sometimes customers ask for an opinion.   Some real estate agents never offer an opinion as it exposes them to risk.  Some real estate agents will not be present during a home inspection because it exposes them to potential risk.  [Let the inspector do their job.  The inspection result is between the buyer and the inspector.]
There is nothing wrong with risk management.   There is some potential risk in getting out of bed every morning!

There is an expectation that a real estate agent will have knowledge, skills and experience that is of value to buyers.  Otherwise the agent becomes nothing more than a doorman or door-woman. 

In my opinion a precisely worded opinion based on fact that is clearly prefaced as "opinion" is not a significant risk.  Perhaps the greater risk is not saying something when it should be said.

When I provide a free market analysis to Brevard County home sellers it is clearly an opinion of value.  I am not a licensed real estate appraiser so I do not prepare appraisals. 

When offering opinions I am careful to never tread in areas I am not licensed including legal, tax, structural engineering and especially clairvoyance!
  • I do not know what the value of a house will be in a year or five years.  Sure we can look at the trends based on current prices and the general trend as of today. 
  • I do not know where interest rates are going.   Your mortgage professional will be able to tell you what the rates are today but they don't know about six months down the road. 
  • I do not know what any seller will take for their home.  The only way to know if a seller will take a certain price is to make a written offer. 
  • I do not know how much the repairs on a house will cost.  Lets get an professional to provide an estimate.
My customers expect me to be an information resource.   I know they will use my answers and advice, at least partially, to possibly make one of the most expensive purchases in their lifetime.  For that reason my opinions will always be based on the facts as known by me at the time.   Still, it is only my opinion.

As alluded to above there are some areas I do not offer opinions.   What are some of those areas?
  • Crime rate.  Call local law enforcement.  
  • School quality.  Consult the school district office or visit the principal and talk with parents of children at the school.
  • Neighborhood make-up.  Drive through or take a walk in the neighborhood after people come home from work or over the weekend.  Consult the census data.
  • Homeowner Association Rules and Finances.  Read the documents. Call a board member. Consult an attorney.
  • Any question that touches on fair housing and discrimination - period!

House / ? image courtesy of jscreationzs /
Risk  image courtesy of Stuart Miles /