By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer & Graphic Designer
Agents are gladly walking off the marathon sprint that was the real estate race of the last three years, attempting to keep up with the pace of what customers wanted, which as it turns out, isn’t always right for them, or so it seems.
A growing regret is rearing its ugly head in real estate clients across not only the U.S. but in Canada as well. Hindsight is “20/20” has a new, unexpected double meaning now for Wendy Ronberg, Franchisee of EXIT Realty Vision in Ottawa, who was featured in a CBC article on the topic of homeowner recourse in the aftermath of the Great Relocation.
Impossibly truncated turnaround times left no room for mortgage broker consultations and left clients risking paying well over asking/appraisal or foregoing protective conditions just to compete. Like so many agents Wendy watched in dismay wondering how she could help keep her clients safe.
“Your number one goal is to make sure you’re providing great service for your clients, and that means ensuring you’re taking care of their needs and not putting them in harm’s way,” she said of the catch-22 so many faced. “We would do pre-inspections, which can cost anywhere from $500-$650 depending on the property. Often, I would have clients where it would take at least four or five homes before they would win a bid. I had one client win on their 11th. Clients would spend close to $2,000 on inspections on the first two or three homes they put offers on, but after that they just couldn’t do it anymore.”
A self-motivated individual by nature with over 20 years as an educator prior to getting licensed, Wendy prioritized due diligence and learning all she could about properties for her clients. She also leaned on term clauses, seen as the friendlier, flexible inclusions to their more abrupt conditional counterparts, to still build a sense of security around things like financing, inspections, as well as insurance. She also spoke openly with clients about factoring in worst-case scenarios, as well as time of ownership for her military customers to help them weigh the risks and resale ROI.
The most important thing Wendy did was keep communications in writing, a task some agents are lamenting not doing now as disgruntled clients and their litigations pop up across North America.
“From REALTOR® to REALTOR®, it’s so important to make sure that everything is documented. I can’t stress that enough,” she urged. “Keep all your records with your communication, your emails, your texts. If you just had a conversation, send an email back to that client or agent saying, ‘Just so that I’m clear in our conversation…’ You restate it, and then have them confirm it so that things are on paper.”
It’s paramount for agents to advise their clients to seek legal advice, and in addition to that, Wendy suggests what separates the mediocre from the professionals is how agents can still be of help to clients who find themselves stuck with homes they’ve purchased saying, “I try to help them with the right trades people, some offer payment plans, and then I also see whether they can reach out and talk to a mortgage broker. There’s also the rental piece. Could they get the home ready to rent and get money from that and move back with their parents for example. I’ve had clients do that.”
In the end, that’s what being in real estate is all about to Wendy. She aims to surround clients with a team who can help, saying, “You don’t work in your own silos, and you should never work in your own silos. You’re working together.” And that’s something she feels should never change, no matter the market.