DONE: Choose an expert.

Last fall I ran into the classic DIY question.  Facing a leaking water heater and a wet garage floor, I had to decide: should I attempt a DIY fix on my own?  or call in an expert?  I shut off the water and confided in my trusty YouTube searches for answers, and I was fairly certain I knew what was wrong with the unit.  But could I trust myself to change a faulty relief valve?  Can I replace my plumber with… me?
We could all be replaced. We live in a YouTube generation where, if you watch enough videos, you could probably replace your own water heater without a professional.  After a few hours into the water heater replacement, and five trips to Lowe’s, you might find yourself exhausted, dabbling with a shiny new flame torch, and wondering how you got to this place.  Worst of all, it probably would have been less expensive and less time consuming if you had simply called that trusty plumber.
The same is true for when you’re ready to pack up and move to a new home.  Have you ever noticed how many different personalities come into play in a typical real estate transaction? If you’re buying a home, you’d likely cross paths with several different people who are vital to the operation.
Lenders: verify your financial life and provide funding for the process
Inspectors: look out for your investment
Appraisers: look out for the bank’s investment
Agents: legally represent your side of the transaction
Brokers: supervise & counsel your agent
Closing Attorneys: Cover your legal documentation and record tax records
Buyers & Sellers: Well… you know who you are 😉
Each personality in the experience carries valid expertise that can’t be missed.  You WANT a good inspector who can safeguard your purchase by thoroughly documenting every detail with the home.  Unless you have cash on hand, you WANT a good lender who has experienced knowledge of which loan program would best fit your scenario.  And I dare say that you WANT a good listing agent who has design and marketing experience to make your home look its best, who can thoroughly document its features, who can connect it with the real estate community, who has knowledge of pocket listings that are about to come up for sale, and shows you homes that other agents miss.
When it comes to real estate investments, some people imagine that they can save a dollar, “YouTube it,” and do it themselves.  But the fact is that their time and money will be put to better use by understanding that each person has a role to play, and each person must be allowed to exercise their expertise to the maximum.
To finish the water heater story— I called in my trusty plumber.  In and out in 30 minutes, $80.  I would have spent that much at Lowe’s!

Grand Slam Consultations

Last Fall one of my neighbors had her burglar alarm serviced at the house.  A company visited her home, examined the existing system, replaced a few sensors, tested the alarm, and installed a cell phone dialer, which is a device that calls for help when the alarm is triggered.  I applauded her, as she lives alone and could use an added layer of security.
We sat in her kitchen and talked about locking doors and arming the system, and I asked her if she also locked the gate on her back yard fence.  She said she hadn’t thought of that, and she would pick up a lock next time she went out.  I also mentioned that her sliding glass door may need a rod behind it, since she had trouble with the main latch.  And I also noticed the circuit breaker was on the *exterior* of her home, and there was a place to hang a padlock for more peace of mind (so no one can shut off the power during a break in).  Plus, I mentioned the Today show had featured a product that focused on a better way to secure your garage door.  I had so many thoughts on securing her home that by the end of the conversation she was likely DONE with me!
However, my conversation with her led me to believe that the alarm company hadn’t even discussed these issues with her.  If they were giving security consultations, which they were, then why didn’t they bring up all of these other ideas with her home?  Even if the security company did not directly profit from giving such advice, they are in the business of helping people *feel* more secure, correct?
That thought made me question my own business.  If I’m in the business of helping people move from one home to another, what am *I* missing in the process?  I want to be the type of Realtor that has ALL the bases covered.  I want to get the job done by giving clients FULL consultations and face-to-face interaction.  If they need ANYTHING related to moving, I want to be there with the right service, or at least refer someone who can.  There’s nothing wrong with putting in a little extra time so the homeowner feels fully cared for.  Heaven forbid a client feels taken care of and has an ongoing friendship with their Realtor!

Balancing Act

I find home buyers take different approaches to their house hunt.  Some people think with their brains, and some think with their hearts.  Some approaches have positive results, others negative, and choosing the right approach can have dramatic difference on the outcome.   When it comes to the head versus the heart, I can essentially narrow the types of buyers down to three different categories.
1. First, there’s the heartless investor.  The investor examines a property on paper, making little note of curb appeal and, well, interior cuteness.  Even if an investor is going to live in the home, they think only with their brain about the number of miles from home to work (don’t forget the decimal), the percentage increase from one prior sale to the next, or how much money a comparable property would fetch.  Don’t mistake these aspects for something unimportant; they have a vital place, but this way of thinking does not leave room for a true opinion of the property in question.
2. Secondly, there’s the overzealous fairytale dreamer.  To confess, I fall into this category more often than not.  The dreamer has a vision of what they want to achieve; imaginations run wild with backyards full of fireflies, dinner parties next to a fireplace, or how the latest West Elm sofa would look along the front window.  And while these dreams are perfectly valid to the point of motivating a purchase, it’s not like we can wrap up the dollars and cents aspects and toss them out the window.  As a side note, dreamers also think they can achieve their final dreams upon closing and under budget.  Again, I am guilty.
3. And finally, there’s the cool, calm, and collected home buyer.  The collected home buyer has opinions on furniture placement, but also considers the drive to work.  The calm home buyer tends to avoid the pitfalls of the investors and dreamers, not allowing inevitable hiccups and plan changes to derail their determination.  They allow their heart to inform their decision, and they allow their brain to calculate the long term affects of their purchase.
Generally speaking, the cool, calm, and collected buyer does not exist in the wild, and most people fall into one of the first two categories.  If people don’t move on from being a human calculator or a deep dreamer, they’ll tend to get burned out on their thinking.  But one aspect of a Realtor’s job is to teach buyers of how think properly, striking a balance between head and heart.  It’s therefore possible to move from an investor typer of buyer to a more balanced approach.  Or from a fairytale dreamer to a stable thinker.  Sometimes it just takes the right Realtor to tell you to “Shape up and get for real.”  😉

The Scenic Route

There’s a reason for taking the long way now and then.  There’s something you get out of driving along Franklin Pike that you miss when you fly down I-65.  One of my favorite songs is called “The Scenic Route” and toward the end of the song it goes, “Drive the car all the way around the moon.”   I’m not one to make people wait unnecessarily, but sometimes it’s right to wait.  Case in point:
One of my best friends is SO ready to buy a house.  She wants her financial independence and freedom of ownership more than anyone I know.  She’s practically begging for a home!  And she could probably get a home based on her job.  …but it wouldn’t be right.  She wants to wait just a little bit longer, let her existing lease run its course, establish herself with a bit more of a financial cushion… but THEN…
THEN she’s going to get exactly what she wants: an adorable home that’s just right for her.  She’s taking that scenic route, that methodical, logical, well-paced scenic route to home ownership, and I applaud her for it!
Buying a home is a detailed process with a set timeline, and it takes patience to comprehend the undertaking and do it right.  Baby steps, composure, happiness.
…And I can’t wait until my friend finally has the home she’s been holding out for.

No Shortcuts on the Way to Greatness

Have you ever met someone who has all the shortcuts figured out? They only put in a fraction of the work week, and they make ridiculous amounts of money?
Yeah, me neither.
I recently came across one of those “suggested posts” on Facebook.  It advertised “Free video shows how I sold over 200 homes in 2014.  While working only 1 day per week.”  I chuckled, took a screenshot (below), and flicked to the next post.  Though it makes for an enticing link, it’s a little comical to think people expect to get rich quick.  The reality, however, is that anything worth pursuing takes elbow grease and a whole lot of time.  There are a few great people who really understand this.  People not unlike Tom Hanks’ character in A League of Their Own.  Referring to baseball, he declares, “It’s supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.  The HARD is what makes it GREAT.”
Selling a house isn’t that different.  Any real estate agent can list your house TODAY and have it posted to the MLS.  But there’s not much elbow grease in just the act of listing a home.  Your house has potential to fetch MORE money if you sit down with a Realtor and really allow them to work their magic.  That agent can act as your consultant, offering ideas and suggestions when it comes to little things like fresh paint, staging, landscaping, cleaning, decluttering, and such.  Getting professional photographs taken instead of iPhone shots can create a whole new look and feel, attracting buyers who would have otherwise overlooked your home.  Measuring rooms for actual square footage instead of relying on the tax record could make a big difference in list price.  All of this in addition to putting a professional sign in the yard, getting a professional showing service to schedule showings, and conducting open houses equates to HARD work that makes the listing GREAT.
The HARD is what makes it GREAT.
Greatness does not come this easy
Greatness doesn’t come this easy.

Kevin Martelli
Affilate Broker, Realtor
Pareto Realty, LLC

How to Compete in a Fast Market with Little Inventory

It seems like every time I have a buyer interested in a house, they like to take time to think about the purchase before they submit an offer.  This is a good thing; in fact, I encourage buyers to sleep on it before they decide to move forward.  However, Nashville’s been moving a little faster lately, and a few of my buyers have been surprised to find their long awaited house can disappear off the market in as little as a day!
“How are we supposed to make such a quick decision in such a short amount of time?”  they ask.  “It’s too much pressure and not enough time to really stop and consider whether this is the right house.”
I fully agree.
Luckily for us, the Tennessee Association of Realtors has standardized forms that we can use to submit an offer.  The offer form has a handy little “Inspection Period” clause that allows us to define a time period that we’ll use for inspections.  I typically recommend a 14 day period.  These days, I tell ALL my buyers, if you’re even REMOTELY thinking that this house could be “the one,” let’s submit an offer!  When the seller accepts an offer, the home is reserved in our name, and then we have some time to REALLY inspect it!
It’s a big win.
This gives buyers not one night to sleep on it, but 14 nights!  They can call the home inspector to take a look at the property, review the inspection report, grab a ladder and look on the roof, shine a flash light around the crawl space…. a proverbial kicking of the tires!  Then, if everything checks out and they want to move forward, we can proceed to financing the home.  On the other hand, if there are too many things wrong with all of the inspections, we can withdraw the offer and search elsewhere.
Thank you, Tennessee Association of Realtors, for giving the home buyer a little time to breathe!
Kevin Martelli
Affiliate Broker, Realtor
Pareto Realty, LLC

Know Your Audience

A week ago I set up my office in a small cafe and began my daily emails.  I overheard little shop talk at the table behind me.  It turned out, a real estate agent and a couple of buyers were searching for a new home!  I was happy to hear such an exciting discussion.
As I began working, I couldn’t help but overhear lots of pauses in the conversation.  I looked back to see a young real estate agent with a small laptop, searching the MLS database, while two elderly clients sat, squinting at the screen through their bifocals.
I tried not to stare.  Or judge the other agent.
BUT WHAT ON EARTH!  I kept asking myself, “Do these home buyers have confidence in their home search?  Are they comfortable squinting to look at a tiny dim screen in a bright coffee shop?”  I bit my tongue.  I wanted so badly to take that agent aside and say…
It doesn’t have to be like this.
There’s a way to carry on a better discussion that is tailored to these buyers.  There’s a method that brings them comfort and helps them to understand they have a key proponent on their side.  If I could have instructed that agent, I would have said…
Close that laptop!  Grab a pen and paper and sit across from your clients.  Look them in the eyes and tell them you’re here to help.  Play the 20 questions game and figure out who they are, where they want to be, where they’re coming from, why they’re moving, and when they want it to happen.  Then get on the road and bring them to homes that fit their desires.
As a Realtor, my most valuable service is REAL LIVE ONE-TO-ONE CONVERSATIONS with my clients.  The most VITAL part of my process is that little bit of time I spend in concentrated LISTENING to what they need. Those short conversations steer the big picture of how I perform, and it’s only AFTER I have a solid understanding that I will send them hand-picked listings and take them on a pre-scheduled home tour to find the home they’ve been searching for.
This is the better way!
Kevin Martelli
Affilate Broker, Realtor
Pareto Realty, LLC

Realtor Artists

One of my favorite musicians once told his audience, “The role of any artist is to see the world and describe it.”
Not only did I quickly understand that he was referring to himself as a music artist, but art in general seemed to “click” for me at that point.  Places where I had no appreciation for concepts and the abstract began to have some sort of meaning.  Now I can ask with sincerity, “What is this person trying to say through his art?”
I also began to see some creativity in other “non-creative” professions.  Engineers, builders, even the spreadsheet monkeys had to get creative with table layouts and formulas.  Could it be true, in some capacity, that every profession carries a job requirement of “artist”?  and in some way everyone has to be creative in how they describe what they see?
In my role as a real estate agent, I love identifying the art in my work.  How do you take someone’s emotional desire for a home and add all their variables to the equation and come up with a specific house as THE answer to their need?  It requires more than just an algorithm or formula.  It is art.  There are feelings, excitement, pressure, stress, and, on closing day… RELIEF and joy.
As a Realtor, I’m quickly finding that I must balance castles with budgets, prioritize ethics, be human, explain the strategies, and lead people through a delicate process.  It’s an art form.  And my medium is one-to-one conversations with clients…  Home sellers…  Buyers…  The finance guys… every person I come into contact with NEEDS me to see my world and describe it!
Kevin Martelli is an Affiliate Broker and REALTOR at Pareto Realty in Nashville, Tennessee.  If you or someone you know is buying or selling a home, Kevin offers both one-to-one consultations and complimentary reports to help determine accurate real estate pricing.
Kevin Martelli
Affilate Broker, Realtor
Pareto Realty, LLC