A New Perspective: Hard Boiled | Real Estate Insights

More like soft-boiled…at least when it comes to the latest flurry of news about Realtor® commissions.

The personal stories of one Realtor’s battles and triumphs in the highly-competitive Bay Area Real Estate Market, seeking to illuminate and humanize the very real ups-and-downs of homeownership.

I didn’t grow up with the concept of Easter as a religious holiday – admittedly, my family didn’t attend church very regularly (or at all). Suffice it to say, that come April, the Shepherd clan was far more focused on the Easter egg hunt, the mashmallow peeps, and the chocolate bunnies scattered throughout the garden then we were on an Easter sermon or a morning mass. With six kids in the household, you can imagine that the Easter production was quite an undertaking. We dyed dozens of eggs the day before (mom kept count in case one wasn’t found and proceeded to turn rotten days later), and each of us took turns artfully applying stickers, painting on stripes and polk dots, or drawing flowers to create our own little Picassos. The next morning we’d race down the stairs, grab our baskets, and tear through the yard at top speed to hunt for hidden treasures.

Who knew that years later, I’d still be working on an assembly line of sorts (or still racing at top speed)?

Separating the yolks from the whites — and the reality from the perception.

There’s been a lot of news as of late (both real and misinformed) regarding Realtor® commissions and practices that have seemingly been hard-boiled into our compensation for decades . . . (more like soft-boiled.) While the profession as a whole, seems to be an easy target to attack (primarily from people who have no clear concept of what Agents do), it’s important to understand that the value an experienced Realtor® brings to the transaction is significant. You need only work with a “For Sale by Owner” to clarify that concept in no uncertain terms.

“But what IS your “value proposition” and how do you quantify it?” (That’s a fair question.)

With more than 20 years under my belt, you think that’d be easy to answer, but it’s not. Realtors often work in the realm of faith and trust, not to mention uncertainty and risk – but here goes . . .

A day in the life

As a licensed Realtor®, I typically start each morning clearing and responding to emails before heading out to turn on lights, water plants, collect mail, and sweep. (There’s no shortage of grunt work in this job.) Then it’s off to check on the progress at the properties that haven’t yet hit the market. In between, there are office meetings to attend, listing appointments to prepare, team conferences to administer, inspectors to meet, paperwork to track, offers to write, negotiations to plow through, nerves to soothe, and a dog to walk. (Riley has nothing to do with Real Estate, but he’s good for the soul.)

Our work is about making sure eggs are not all in ONE basket, but distributed between the many tasks of the job.

At some point in nearly every day, one of us on the team will be hitting up Home Depot, showing property, driving out to the wholesale nursery, writing follow-up letters, hosting events, supporting fundraisers, volunteering in our communities, and baking cookies! At its core, running a successful Real Estate practice is akin to a finely-tuned production line to be sure.

As an aside, we’re the first ask whenever anyone needs support, has to find a quick rental, requires a plumber immediately, or is short on capital. And to be sure, giving back is part of our tradition as well. (It’s all about service.) But ALL Agents are not created equal. While headlines might have you believe that every Realtor® makes more than their fair share in commissions, the average Agent in California actually earns between $28,000 – $130,000 per year – with no sick leave, no paid vacation, and no benefits. (It’s between $40,000 – $65,000 nationally, depending on where you practice.)

And while I’m personally struggling with the notion that the industry must now shift compensation as a result of the recent NAR settlements, (and there’s no doubt changes are on the way), the vast majority of Agents I work with on a daily basis are incredibly hard-working, creative, dedicated DOERS who earn their keep and deserve to be paid fairly for their time, skills, and experience.

However, given that Agents don’t control the interest rates, the Federal Reserve, supply & demand, consumer confidence, world events, unexpected circumstances, class-action lawsuits, or the weather(stop raining already), the reality is that the process doesn’t always unfold as neatly as we’d like. In short, our days often consist of dealing with new discovery and the unexpected, while diligently working toward solutions and happy endings. (Everything is surmountable when cooler heads prevail.) It’s when things go sideways that you want and NEED an experienced Agent on your side . . . that’s where we come in, and where our REAL value lies . . . .

Which is why I’ll continue to worry about the inherent unfairness the new rules are bound to create around already disadvantaged Buyers who, frankly, don’t know what they don’t know, and are ripe for being taken advantage of. (Buyers have the most to lose from these new rulings.) New Buyers, young Buyers, minority Buyers, and Vets all need the help of a seasoned Realtor more than anyone else, but will be the least likely to afford good representation.

That being said, there are well-intentioned folks working on how this all falls out and I’m counting on them to set a new pathway forward. And on that note, I’m off to drop off hardboiled eggs and PB&Js to St. John’s, which is as close to the church as I get. (We don’t dye eggs for Passover.)  Spirituality, is a whole other topic of conversation. 

Happy Easter everyone – see you at the Opens. There will be chocolate eggs!

And for more fun, some nostalgia prompts:
​1.  What was your favorite Easter candy?
2.  Ham or Pork for Easter dinner?
3.  Who knew marshmallow was spelled with an “a”? (I looked it up three times.)

How can we help you?

Julie Gardner & Sarah Abel | Compass Realty

Not just Realtors, but consultants in all things house and home, we’re here to educate, explore, examine and refer . . . In short, you may count on us to take care of your home as if it were our own and anyone who knows us, knows we take pretty darn good care of our homes.

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