Real estate agents have often been held to ridicule by many. However, I feel that this is a very unfair assessment of the profession. As someone who has been involved many real estate deals in Israel over a period of thirty years, I have learned that a good real estate agent can be of invaluable assistance to the parties and to the professionals involved in the transaction.
However, the opposite is true as well. A bad real estate agent can cause damage to the parties and gives his profession a bad name.
Recently, I was asked by a client who owned an apartment that he had bought for investment purposes to represent him in the rental agreement for this apartment. I had spoken to the real estate agent involved and explained to him what I had wanted by way of security from the future tenant within the framework of the transaction. I was surprised at the lack of knowledge on the part of real estate agent on this subject.
However, the worst was yet to come.
The agent told me that the tenant agreed to my requirements on this issue and set a date for the signing of the lease agreement in my office. At this meeting it turned out that he did not advise the tenant properly and the tenant did not agree to the security I had asked for. The real estate agent stood in my office and screamed at the top of his lungs about what he perceived was my ineptitude and then turned to my client and suggested that perhaps he should get another lawyer and he could even recommend one.
My client, who is a smart man and understood the importance of a proper security for the lease agreement declined and no lease agreement was signed that day. This tenant, who was to be homeless in a few days was forced to leave my office with no lease agreement in hand because of the
unprofessional behavior and bad advice of his agent. In addition to this, my client wasted time and money in his efforts with this tenant. Another agent found a different tenant for the apartment who had no problem providing the security.
Unfortunately, many real estate agents feel that it is their job only to make a connection between the parties and no more. The rest of the work such as the negotiation of the price, closing date and basic payment schedule they leave to the parties themselves and their lawyers. Many times clients have come to me with deals where absolutely no meeting of the minds took place. They did not agree on a price or on closing dates. Since lawyers take money for their time it can be a total waste of money to come to the lawyer with a deal if the parties are not even close to agreeing on the basic details of the transaction.
On the other hand I have been witness to the work of many professional, talented and honest real estate agents. These agents really do their best to get their clients the best deal they can under the circumstances. These agents aid rather than hinder the deal. How do they do this?
They listen to their clients and do a reality check with them as to their means of financing the deal and what their wish list is.They have important information about the properties they are showing such as title, size, zoning and what is in the neighborhood. They are clear as to their fees and other closing costs of the transaction. They negotiate for the client the price of the property and other key issues. If they are representing sellers they screen the people they are showing the property to so as not to waste time with people who are not serious buyers. They cooperate with other agents with potential buyers. They advertize the property at their expense. They advise as to ways of making the property more attractive to potential buyers so that the seller can sell at the best price possible and as soon as possible. They advise as to the correct price that can be gotten for the property. If they are representing buyers they don’t waste time showing them properties that are not in their price range or that don’t match their dreams. This is hard and often nerve racking work.
In short, by the time the transaction reaches the lawyers the parties are prepared for the deal and the important issues have been settled. Very often, even after the deal reaches the lawyers, the agents can be instrumental in pulling the deal through. If one of the lawyers is dragging his feet then the agent can assist here. If there are other issues to work through and the parties don’t speak the same language then the agents can assist here as well.
So if you are looking for property and you need the assistance of an agent then ask around and get some input from other people as to the agents they worked with and how they felt their service was. Ask the agent what he thinks his job is. If his answer is to make the connection and no more – stand clear. Look for the good upstanding professional agents to help you find and secure the property you wish to purchase or sell.