Foster good relationships and everyone wins
Clients rely on real estate agents and home inspectors to establish great relationships to ensure a smooth transaction

by Tom Clegg
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Real estate transactions are complicated. How complicated?
The home inspector perspective
Chirafisi also said agents help inspectors by being the middleman for confirming inspection times and access to the property. Such subtle benefits of professionals maintaining good relationships can appear in a variety of ways. “Sometimes you need a favor, and if you don’t have a relationship with those people, they’re less likely to try to go the extra mile for you,” Randall said. “If you’re representing the seller in a transaction and have good relationship with the inspector, you can just call him and he’ll drop what he’s doing to help.” There are many ways to keep professional relationships strong - Chirafisi has been known to bring food to agents during open houses but the easiest way is through common courtesy. Randall gives the example of an appraiser who calls with a question and leaves a voicemail. Randall said he always does his best to fulfill that request, even if requires “a little extra legwork,” and always calls the appraiser back as quickly as possible.

“I try my best to treat people the way I want to be treated,” Randall said. “If I’m working on a market analysis for a property I’m about to put on the market, and maybe I need an extra opinion or I need to bounce something off somebody, it helps to have that (relationship). If you never call somebody back who’s requested things of you, you’re not going to call them and ask them for information.”

Stay the course

Chirafisi said the vast majority of agents he has worked with are good at their jobs and can be “fun to work with.” Before the housing bubble burst, when there were a lot agents who had joined the real estate business only to “make a quick buck,” as Chirafisi described them, bad agents and poor relationships were more common. But no matter how much Chirafisi might dislike an agent personally, that won’t affect the way he provides service, as long as he believes the agent appropriately represents the client’s interests. “I don’t just say, ‘This guy’s a jerk. I’m not going to help him.’ Because he may refer me another home inspection,” Chirafisi said. “I only have to deal with him for two to three hours, and then I’m done with him.” The thing about professional real estate relationships is that they are less important when everything involved in a transaction is going smoothly. “Relationships really don’t matter until you have a problem,” Randall said. “When you have a problem, you find out really quick what kind of relationships you have with everyone involved in the transaction.”
The thing about professional real estate relationships is that they are less important when everything involved in a transaction is going smoothly.
On its website, the National Association of REALTORS® has a list of 180 steps a real estate agent typically takes during a successful real estate transaction, everything from pre-listing activities to following up after the closing. The real estate agent is involved not only with the client, but many other real estate professionals during the course of the transaction. Those professionals include appraisers, home inspectors and closing agents. So good relationships among all these professionals can make the difference between a successful transaction and an unsuccessful one.
A good relationship goes a long way Real estate professionals in the same region often work together on many transactions, which means leads to established relationships. Maintaining good relationships with other all other professionals is important, but the most important relationship for an agent to have in a typical buyer-seller home transaction is with the other agent, said Mike Randall, a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Properties in Florence, Ala. “I’m having to trust that agent to convey information to their client that I’m sending them,” said Randall, who has been licensed in real estate since 2000, “and sometimes it’s not the information, but it’s how the information is conveyed that dictates the response.”

Randall said potential areas of concern can occur during home appraisals or inspections, but a good working relationship with the other agent can go a long way toward smoothing over any problems that might arise. “If you’ve got an agent on the other end that you do not have a good relationship with, it can magnify an obstacle versus having an attitude of, ‘Hey, we’re going to figure this thing out,’” Randall said. Overcoming those obstacles can allow a transaction to be successfully completed, whereas a bad relationship with another agent might lead to the deal falling through. And who do you think each agent’s client will remember? “Unfortunately, in our business, if there’s a bad real estate transaction, even if you did everything you could for your client, the client’s just going to remember it was a bad real estate transaction,” Randall said. “When somebody else makes a mess, it’s still kind of a reflection on everyone else.”
For the home inspector, the most important relationship in a real estate transaction is with the real estate agents. There's one big reason. “Real estate agents are the No. 1 referral source for home inspectors,” said Chris Chirafisi, a licensed home inspector in Wisconsin, Kentucky and Florida. Chirafisi also is a product and technical training manager with OnCourse Learning’s American Home Inspection Training. One thing Chirafisi does to make sure he maintains strong relationships with real estate agents is offer a free service. “If they’re looking at a house with their client, and the client has not put in an offer yet, I’ll go and look at one item for no charge for the real estate agent,” said Chirafisi, a licensed inspector for 15 years. The home inspection is one of the key steps during a real estate transaction, and Chirafisi said real estate agents often make the inspector’s job easier by pointing out to the client obvious problems with the home before the inspection. For example, an agent who sees a large crack in a basement wall often will recommend that the buyer has the wall examined by a structural engineer, who can make a recommendation and provide documentation about whether it needs to be repaired before the house goes on the market. Otherwise, the inspector almost surely will recommend the wall be examined by a professional, delaying the transaction and wasting the inspector’s time.
Real estate’s superhero squad
"Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, each member of your team has special skills necessary to help you achieve homeownership," Denise Creswell, president of the Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS® wrote in an article for The Tennessean.

Each of Creswell's superheros serves a particular purpose in a real estate transaction:

The REALTOR® — The leader of the team, the Realtor may represent either the buyer or seller in the real estate transaction. As the Realtor, you handle all the tasks associated with listing, marketing and showing the home. The Realtor is also "a referral source for the other members of your team."

The lender — The mortgage lender is the team's money person. If they are financing the purchase, the buyers will need to be approved for a mortgage. This team member will help them determine which financing option is best for them.
The inspector — A crucial part of the team, the home inspector is charged with evaluating the home's condition and mechanical structures, according to Creswell. The home inspector may be hired by the buyer or the seller, who can commission a pre-inspection of the property.
The title company — This squad member assists both buyer and seller by checking for any liens against the property. If any are found, the seller must ensure the property has a clear title before it exchanges owners. In addition, the title company coordinates
EDITOR'S NOTE: Tom Clegg is a freelance writer.
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