For Connie Semans, the hardest part of being a real estate agent is watching from the sidelines, especially when she knows she could add value. When we asked Connie for an anecdote in which she was able to #BeTheSherpa, she had a story at the ready.
“The sellers had found an interested buyer who was already renting in the neighborhood,” she said. “He was very motivated and the offer was good.” Neither party had an agent. But both expected the transaction to go smoothly.
The rude awakening came in the form of the home inspection.
“Both parties were shocked,” Connie said. “It was a massive report with a laundry list of everything wrong with the house, including some structural concerns.” The sellers felt incriminated. The buyer felt misled and backed out.
“It fell apart,” Connie lamented. “It was a very bitter end.”
And the hardest part for Connie was that it was all completely avoidable.
As a broker, Connie knows her role well. While she wouldn’t have disputed the inspection report, as the seller’s trusted advisor, she would have evaluated each item and helped the sellers address them.
“Inspection reports are thirty to forty pages, and they run the gamut from big things to little things. It can be broken up as things to address now and things to work on later.” Connie knows that it can be an emotional document and completely overwhelming. Have having seen so many of them over the course of her career, she knows how to separate the emotion from the fact and guide her clients through it.
But with no client advisor on either side of the transaction, emotions in this deal ran rampant. “It was a 45-year-old house, and they should have expected it,” she said.
Setting expectations is what Connie does as a real estate broker.
And when she was eventually invited onboard as the listing agent for the home, she carefully took things in hand.
Connie allayed the seller’s fears by pointing out the needed repairs matched the expectations of a house that age… and she reminded them everything is negotiable. She talked them through the report, prioritized repairs they would make themselves, identified other repairs they would disclose to the buyer and made the entire process more palatable.
“Had either one of them been represented, the original deal would have come to pass. It needed a voice of reason. Someone to break things down into manageable pieces. There was no perspective, and no bench of knowledge to draw on.”
With Connie off the sidelines and coaching the transaction, the house was relisted and sold to a happy end.
From library science to food entrepreneur to real estate
Like many agents, real estate was not a first career for Connie. Nor was it a second. From her background in library science and technology consulting, Connie jumped into small business. She then flirted with several other self-start-ups, but eventually found herself in real estate.
She hasn’t looked back in four years. Though she did encounter some surprises.
“Despite having run my own business, even I didn’t appreciate what real estate would require entirely. The biggest surprise was managing all the aspects of the business. It was just me, but still, there was a lot to manage and a lot of little details to take care of.”
Connie started out by building on her existing network. She sent emails, made some phone calls, wrote a few letters and discussed her new career at every reasonable opportunity. Before long she was up and running with a steady book of satisfied clients and healthy business relationships.
And recently, Connie joined RED Collective, a boutique firm in Durham, NC with a holistic focus on real estate, environments, and design. She found that her own approach matched that of the RED team.
“I’m a high-touch broker,” she said. “I do a lot of hand-holding and footwork. Buying or selling a house is very personal. I make sure my client relationships are as well.” And that same philosophy is in place at RED.
“I like that everyone at RED is really into the creative aspects of the business–it’s not just a transaction. We take a 360-degree view of real estate.” The firm offers services and has in-house expertise not only in brokerage but architecture, staging, design and law. “Our clients love that. It gives them confidence that we’ve got folks at the firm that are more than transaction shepherds.”
Agent, broker, coach, trusted advisor… no matter what term she uses for herself, it’s clear Connie does her best work by her client’s side instead of on the sidelines.