A client’s father who “knew a guy”

by Debbie Hanlon

For whatever reason, people seem to think that anyone can buy and sell houses, not just professional real estate agents. Many people think that selling a home is an easy thing to do.

But the number of people selling their own homes is steadily declining as those who have tried the do-it-yourself route have come to realize that it isn’t as simple as it seems. That, however, doesn’t always stop people from trying to help you do your job as I found out recently with a client’s father who was one of those people who “knew a guy.”

When it came time for the house inspection, he knew a guy who did them. Now, the inspectors I have encountered are fast and professional. This new guy was neither. He did not return calls or texts, and what normally took a matter of a few hours stretched into more than a week. The report itself was confusing and, in my opinion, which I did express, was not a true representation of a professional home inspection. It made a fairly simple step in the selling process a headache for everyone involved.

When it came to a lawyer, the father knew a guy who did that. Same result. The lawyers I have used over the years have for the most part been professional and thorough, but not this guy. He was new and his inexperience cost us a few more days and stretched the patience of all parties concerned to the point of nearly snapping.

Need home insurance? Well, we were in luck because the father knew a guy who did insurance. He didn’t do it well, nor did he do it cheap but, by golly, he did insurance. He also took his time doing it and more days ticked by without my clients having a home.

In the end, the couple ended up going with one of the firms I had recommended.  I always give my clients several referrals that I have confidence in. The firm was professional, thorough and cost effective.

When you deal with the families of clients, you’re fighting a losing battle. The parents are trying to do what they think is best for their children. They are trying to help you do your job and all you can really do is let them help.

Guide them to make the correct decisions. I always ask them if they’re sure when they put out an opinion on what should be done. That way they have an out. That pause sometimes helps them realize that maybe they should just let you do your job. If this doesn’t work, then I simply arrange to meet my clients — the people who I am representing — in private in my office and then I lay my cards on the table.

It’s not like they would meddle with any other profession. They wouldn’t tell their doctor how to treat their child’s cold. They wouldn’t stand next to their teacher in school and tell them how to teach a lesson. They wouldn’t dare. They’d let the professionals do their jobs.

Except when it comes to real estate. In this business, it seems that everyone is an expert in all aspects of the trade. They all “know a guy” who can do what needs to be done.

The father’s interference in the deal I was doing for his daughter and her husband cost them a couple of weeks and several thousand dollars. At first, they were not aware of the issues that were being created by these inexperienced professionals, because they had never done a real estate deal and were totally unaware of how it’s done and why it’s done the way it is.

However, by the time we closed the deal, roughly three weeks beyond the original closing date, my clients were knowledgeable enough to write the real estate exam. It was through persistence and information that I finally got through to the clients’ parents and in the end my clients.

I felt a bit elated when the father who, I have to say, did learn his lesson by the end of it, and admitted he was frustrated and had made a few mistakes. He said all the waiting was giving him a headache and asked me to deal with the issues on hand. Not to worry, I assured him. You see, I know a guy.

(This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of REM.)