I have a problem with my Real Estate Professional! So what do I do?

It is unfortunate when your real estate professional seems to be a problem.  There are more and more stories lately where this is happening.  So what should you do?  Read on for tips on how to handle these issues.

[tab: The Issues]

More and more lately I have been hearing and reading about problems with real estate professionals.  Many consumers are getting weary of dealing with these problems as they already have enough in their lives to deal with.  As a consumer myself I can tell you how frustrating it is to deal with any professional that is not as professional as I expected.  As a buyer or seller of a home you should be treated well by all real estate professionals you encounter!  For buyers they are usually told they do not pay for the services of some professionals but that is not entirely true.  Even though they buyer might not directly write out a check for the real estate professional they are affected by that professional’s actions.  So how should you deal with real estate professionals when you have a problem?  The two largest issues experienced today are explained here.

Reassess your expectations.

Sometimes we set expectations for the people we deal with that might be unreasonable high.  We all want our real estate professionals to treat us with courtesy, respect, a high degree of professionalism, and might well have other criteria.  But what did we use to determine how those criteria are set?  One of the ways I keep tabs on the real estate scene is to read and participate on various online bulletin boards.  Here I see many people talk about how good or bad their real estate professional was.  They provide stories of professionals who go way beyond the call and take actions to make sure their clients are happy and treated well.  One person even spoke about their professional who drove them all around, literally wined and dined them, and even provided transportation services to and from airports and other locations while not working with them.  Another participant on that thread seemed to think this was a requirement to do this and had many harsh words to say about their real estate professional who did not take those actions.  Unfortunately that one thread was read by hundreds of people who will now have a wrong impression of what their real estate professional should be doing.  By reassessing your expectations you should first start by getting back to basics.  Was your real estate professional courteous, respectful, and did they treat you with a high degree of professionalism?  If so then they have fulfilled their basic requirements.  Now you can review the remainder of your criteria to see if possibly those expectations were too high?

Are you communicating well with your real estate professional?

Without a doubt the biggest issue with any problem between you and your real estate professional tends to be a lack of effective communications!  A lack of communications leads to many misunderstandings which tend to escalate well before a large problem develops.  Communicating your needs, satisfactions and dissatisfaction’s when they occur is as important as communicating them effectively.  Whether it is verbal, through email, or any other method you need to communicate with your professional so that they can live up to your expectations or explain to you why they can not.

Still having problems?  Read on to the next tab for what you should do to handle these issues.

[tab: The Simple Solutions]

So you feel you have reasonable expectations, have been communicating with your real estate professional, and yet still feel there are problems?  Do not become to worked up and upset as this will only harm your situation and impede any solution!  Step back from the situation and take a breather to compose yourself and prepare to properly handle it.  As basic as this sounds take a minute to put pen to paper and list why you are so upset.  Let the thoughts flow freely to paper and don’t stop until you have vented it fully in writing.  After you are finished then read what you just wrote.  Quite possibly it might actually help you reassess whether you are being unreasonable or not fully communicating with your real estate professional?  If nothing else then this little exercise will help you focus your thoughts and prepare for confronting the issues you are experiencing.

If at this point you still feel you are not being treated fairly and professionally then it is time to explore your various options.  The very first thing to do is to go back over your list that you just wrote and decide exactly what are the issues you feel are there and what are the corrections that would satisfy you.  Be specific in both of these as generalities only cause confusion and lead to more problems.  List each problem and then each acceptable correction.  When you are ready to discuss this with the professional it will help you stay focused, prevent you from drifting, and prevent the professional from drifting.

You are now ready to confront your real estate professional directly.  It is important that you provide them one last opportunity to correct the issues at hand.  Do not try to sugar coat your discussion and be frank and honest with them.  On the same hand do not be belligerent and forceful without providing them an opportunity to work with you to a mutual correction(s).  If you have to go farther up the complaint chain then this step, if performed properly, will only help solidify your position in the matter.  If your real estate professional is willing to work with you, but you are unwilling to work with them, then it will only hurt your cause.

There are times when you have tried everything you can with a real estate professional and still are getting nowhere.  It is time to take the next step above that real estate professional.  If they are an employee in a firm then you should give the firm’s owner/manager the opportunity to correct the issues.  Regardless of what the issue is the owner/manager might not be aware of a problem employee.  Approach the owner/manager and provide them the same opportunity to correct the problems at hand.  You might well be surprised at how fast the issue is handled as no business wants a bad name or to deal with issues that come down from the next level above them.  It’s just not good business!

[tab: The More Complex Solutions]

Some times no matter what you do or how you handle a situation some businesses just don’t get it!  At this point you might well have to take the next step and go beyond the real estate professional or their firm.  At this point what is important is the significance of the problems you are facing.  If the problem is significant enough, and you are about to lose a great deal of money, time, or the sale of your home as a result of the real estate professional’s actions or lack of action, then you need to make a serious decision.  The decision is whether or not to contact an Attorney that specializes in real estate matters?

You need to keep in ind that once an Attorney is involved the whole situation changes.  It could potentially take a simple letter from the attorney to correct the matter, or it can result in a long and expensive battle.  If you think you need an Attorney then by all means at least spend the small amount if necessary for an initial consultation with an Attorney.  An initial consultation does not lock you into any course of action and may well prove invaluable to deciding how to handle the situation.  Make sure that your Attorney explains all that will be involved and specifically what your chances are of settling the issue to your satisfaction.

If your situation is not one that you feel would require an Attorney then there are other alternatives.  However most other alternatives are little more than road blocks and might not solve your issue.  For example you can register a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.  Even if the real estate professional is not a member the BBB claims to at least register the complaint and do a basic inquiry with the business.

Another often pushed alternative is to file a complaint with the association(s) that the real estate professional belongs to.  Associations have little control over their members and at most they might impose sanctions on them.  Associations rarely eject their members unless they have license revocations or other serious offenses.  After all an association lives from its members dues.  If the associations were in the proper habit of sanctioning and ejecting problem members then they would lose revenue and die off.

The best course of action, if you decide an Attorney is not warranted, is to file a complaint with the real estate professionals’ State licensing agency.  Here in Texas that is the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC).  A real estate professional might well ignore their associations but most certainly can not ignore their licensing agency.  Even the mere mention of filing a complaint with the licensing agency will many times obtain a rational response, and possible solution, from the offending real estate professional.  The licensing agency does have complete control over the offending real estate professionals license and livelihood.

[tab: Conclusion]

When you have an issue with a real estate professional the first thing to do is step back and try to take an objective look at the issue.  By not rushing into any action to correct it provides you the opportunity to reassess your expectations and communications with the real estate professional.  It also allows you to be prepared to handle the issue if it really does exist.

There is one more thing to keep in mind when dealing with your situation.  Use a sequential approach and don’t try to “Shotgun” your efforts for a correction.  By that I do mean do not approach multiple persons, agencies, organizations, etc., all at the same time.  Move from one to the next, continually moving up the chain.  If not you will find that when each one of these different participants discovers you are working another participant in the chain they might well not do anything until the other participant makes a move.  It does you nor anyone else any good.

[tab: Links and References]

Texas Real Estate Commission Consumer Information Page

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