Thank Goodness For The Impartial Third Party.
Sometimes people don't want to ask personal questions of friends and family. There's too much invested... and so much history. Sure, family and close friends should be good at keeping a secret. But they can also be the worst.
Let's look at the potential downside: Family and friends can have their own agenda. Their advice can be self-serving and can sound like a lecture. And we may have to deal with them flipping our questions back on themselves- turning our question into their unrelated diversion. So, what does one do?
Sometimes we ask a stranger.
What does a stranger care? A stranger has no past experience with us. Yes, they may find us odd, but who better to reveal our "oddness" to, than a stranger who can chalk up our encounter as an interesting experience with some rando.
Let me illustrate.
Many years ago I was at the department of motor vehicles. I had taken my number and, preparing for the long wait, I found a spot away from the endless rows of chairs. There was a slight bend in the wall where they had placed two chairs. From here I could wait in peace.
Then a teenaged girl sat next to me. We both stared straight ahead until she made an unusual opening statement.
"I'm thinking of getting a Michael Jackson tattoo."
"One like this", she then stood up and did a moonwalk type pose with her arms outstretched as if she were holding up an imaginary cape.
Sitting down she turned to me and asked, "what do you think?"
Let me give a time reference. Unquestionably a world respected performer, that week Michael Jackson was in court defending himself against serious allegations involving children.
My first inclination was to act as an agent in alliance with my fellow parents of the world. Should my child ask a stranger about tattoos I would hope that stranger would carry out the duty to exercise sound parental advice, "this is not a great idea."
I also felt that I should treat her as a fellow human being. I should listen, question, share my thoughts, etc. As a fellow human, here was my careful advice:
"Well. When one gets a tattoo it's pretty close to permanent. You'll carry that ink forever. Also, if you get a tattoo of a person, you have to hope that person always lives in a way that you would be proud to advertise through your tattoo."
Disappointed, she said, "OK. I guess I won't get it."
Then they called my number and I never saw her again. I assume she got the tattoo. I also assume that having one or not was really her decision. It wasn't up to me to force her to choose one or the other. But I did offer my advice as asked.
So. What does this have to do with real estate?
I have found that people often want to ask personal questions from someone who is not emotionally invested in our decisions. They want (or maybe need) a third party.
They may want a sounding board. They also may not want their family and friends to know their level of preparedness, their income and debt ratios, their reasons for wanting to live in certain places and in certain kinds of structures.
They value a third party... A person who will answer not as family, not as a friend but as a person who can dispense advice free from confusing drama.
As a real estate agent, this is my goal: To act in the best interest of the person who is about to make the largest financial decision of their life. I owe that to my fellow human beings.
Chuck Willman is a buyer and seller agent based in Utah. Lucy Willman is an agent for a new home builder. Together they provide guidance to those seeking advice from experienced real estate agents.