Recently I’ve had the uncomfortable experience (a couple of times) in which potential clients were overly secretive about their situation. One was in Los Gatos, another in San Jose.

I’m going to be blunt here: it is really hard to help when we, as agents, don’t know what is truly going on. It’s not a whole lot different than keeping important things from your doctor or lawyer. If you want help, it is imperative that you tell your hired professionals what is going on.

For that matter, if you are interviewing agents to list your home or to help you to buy your next home, expect those agents to ask you about your needs and motivation. Hiring an agent (and the agent agreeing to take you on as a client) is a two way relationship. Both sides need to be clear and honest with each other.

Let me give you an example. Years ago, I had some prospects (not yet clients) in Monte Sereno who inquired off and on for years about selling their home. At one point, it became a “hurry up” situation. Luckily, they told me the truth: one of them had been diagnosed as terminally ill. The sick one did not want to saddle the survivor with selling the home after the death.

It helped me to help them in knowing the truth. I cannot give tax or legal advice, but I recognised from what they were telling me that it would probably save the survivor a TON of money to hold onto the house until after the spouse’s death because of the stepped-up basis. Now I can’t say that to them, but knowing it, I could and DID say, “before you list with me or anyone else, tell your tax person what you just told me, and tell your tax person that you are thinking of selling now”. That couple’s CPA told them to wait. They did. Had I not known the real reason for the sudden uptick in motivation to sell their home, I could not have assisted them. Their openness and honesty saved the surviving spouse hundreds of thousands of dollars.  (By the way, my urging them to talk with a tax professional, which I knew would result in my not listing the house any time soon or maybe not at all, is an example of behaving as a fiduciary, of putting their interests first, and that is how agency should work if you hire well.  That is what your Realtor or sales person is supposed to do.)

In contrast, I’ve had conversations with seller prospects who did not want to tell me why they were selling, or where they planned to move after the sale. I’m not sure what the concern was, but simple questions were responded to along the lines of “you don’t need to know that”.  You might be surprised that it can, actually be relevant.

Perhaps even more challenging is when I’ve worked with clients and suddenly one or both seem to flip out – out of the blue as far as I can tell.  This has happened to me a few times and it was very perplexing and upsetting to have clients who should have been happy get angry and upset over virtually nothing (or “go on the attack”, which has happened too).  Most ever time, though (luckily it was rare), I later learned that something huge and bad was going on with them which had nothing to do with the real estate transaction or with me: a divorce, a bad diagnosis with a now sick family member, or something equally weighty and difficult.

It probably seems that if this happens, it’s not relevant to the Realtor.  But in truth, if we understand our clients’ situation better, we can often be more accommodating.  In the case of my clients who seemed to go a little crazy without warning, had I understood that they were undergoing some additional issues, I might have been able to work with them better, making it easier on both them and me. I have a background that includes volunteer work with people who are grieving and with hospital chaplaincy – I am trained to listen and to be supportive.  But it’s hard to offer any kind of support if I’m left in the dark!

If you want to buy or sell a home, you really take on a partner when you hire a Realtor. Your real estate agent has a fiduciary relationship with you and as such is someone who you should be able to trust.  Do your due diligence in hiring, but once you do select and hire a real estate agent, trust enough so that you can have a functional relationship that will be a win-win. Being overly secretive with your real estate agent will hurt your chances of hiring well and will likely undermine your ultimate goals. When you hire a Realtor, it’s important to explain your motivation and situation so that he or she can help you the best to get what you want the most.


Thank you for reading this Silicon Valley Real Estate Blog:
an invitation to chat about your goals in buying or selling a home

Thank you for reading this Silicon Valley real estate blog.  Many consumers want to “go it alone” while they get educated on the Silicon Valley real estate market.  If you’d like to go from having information to gleaning knowledge, though, you’ll need to connect with and hire a good Realtor who’s experienced & communicative, who can both guide and teach you without pressuring you.  Please call or email me if you’d like to chat about buying or selling a home in Silicon Valley.  I am happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation. I am not pushy! We can talk over the phone or meet at my office or a coffee shop – whichever is more comfortable for you.

mary (at)
408 204-7673