A dilapidated house. A history of hauntings. Three RE/MAX agents willing to go above and beyond to get the job done.
It all makes for a funny, spirited BuzzFeed video – one that emphasizes the true value only full-service agents (and more specifically, RE/MAX Associates) are able to provide clients.
Difficult situations and difficult properties are expected in real estate. How these issues are handled, however, is what sets apart the ordinary agents from the extraordinary. It’s what distinguishes the discounters from the full-service brokerages. And it’s what makes RE/MAX agents’ unending hustle truly one-of-a-kind.
“People who use a flat-fee agent aren’t aware of the value a full-service agent offers,” says Nancy Zingheim, one of the stars of the video. “Buying or selling a house is not the time to take a shortcut and end up regretting the decision.”
Three Associates – Zingheim, of RE/MAX Gold in Roseville, California; Gina Cefalu, of RE/MAX Accord in Danville, California; and Jennifer Hatter, also of RE/MAX Accord in Danville, California – are featured in the new BuzzFeed video. These newly minted viral-video stars shared their real-life experiences to underscore six truths about RE/MAX agents – and one very big whopper.
clients – start to finish.
When it comes to getting the job done, Cefalu says RE/MAX agents are always ready to assist clients and guide them through the process – and she wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, she recently cleaned bird droppings off a yard sign at 10 p.m. Why? Because that attention to detail and dedication sets her apart.
“I’ve gone up against discount brokers before,” she says. But what I tell my prospective clients is this: I’m not clocking in at 8 a.m. and out at 5 p.m. At those other companies, there’s a baton handoff. The person who takes the listing hands it off to somebody who handles inspections and so on. There are a lot of chances for that baton to get dropped. With RE/MAX, there’s continuity of care.”
There’s also added intangible value with tangible results, says Hatter.
“The level of service I provide speaks volumes to my clients,” she says. “The cost of a full-service agent becomes irrelevant when the net to the seller is higher due to the negotiation skills I bring to the transaction.”
Mold, murder and foundation issues – any of these items are enough to make an agent walk away from a property. But not Zingheim. She’s approached each of these issues with a level head and a well-executed plan of attack. And when two prospective buyers at an open house told her there was a little girl sitting next to her (there wasn’t) and a little boy crying in a closet upstairs (nope), she handled it with ease.
“To make a long story short, these women suggested I take some of my cookies to the boy to make him happy. Of course I thought they were nuts,” she recalls, laughing. “After they were gone, I had a few cookies left. I thought, ‘Oh what the heck,’ put the plate in the closet, closed the door and walked out. And you know what? That house was under contract within two weeks. It had been on the market for months!”
Cefalu says she knows, without a doubt, that being part of her RE/MAX brokerage helps her business – because she trusts the people she works with. If she has a question or an unfamiliar situation arises, she reaches out to her RE/MAX colleagues first.
“We have a pool of resources at our disposal because they’re our RE/MAX group,” she says. “There’s a lot of collaboration. I’ve been at another company, and it was nothing like this. It was a lot of shutting doors and taking out your own garbage, so no one could see what you’re doing. RE/MAX Accord is family-owned, and the Broker/Owners walk the walk and talk the talk.”
As skilled real estate agents, Zingheim, Hatter and Cefalu simply couldn’t ignore the property’s red flags during filming. They saw exposed joists, compromised windows and a decaying roofline, sure, but they also noted five types of electrical outlets, possible asbestos in the kitchen, and the original woodwork that had so much potential but also, perhaps, dry rot and termite damage.
Knowing what to do next comes from experience, says Zingheim. It requires paying attention during different transactions, anticipating what inspectors look for, knowing local laws inside and out, and more.
“It is so important to disclose – we want all parties to know exactly what the situation is so they can make truly informed decisions,” Zingheim says. “As RE/MAX agents, our goal is to build a relationship with our clients. We interview our buyers and sellers so we know exactly what their needs are – and how we can meet them. We want to establish trust and confidence so they know they can come to us for information, support services, inspectors, contractors and things we have knowledge of. I think that’s one of the main differences from a flat-fee agent. We’re not there to check them off, put them in the MLS and run away.”
Staging the inside of the house and the outside? Calling in favors from a drone operator? That kind of service and attention is certainly next-level. And for Cefalu, Zingheim and Hatter, it’s the result of years spent cultivating relationships, knowing the market and striving to earn the best outcome for the client. Thinking creatively doesn’t hurt either.
“I’ve had so many difficult properties, but the most notorious one is a luxury estate where a highly publicized murder took place,” Cefalu says. “My client was the buyer originally, but after only 8 months in the house, he wanted to sell – his significant other wasn’t comfortable and they decided it wouldn’t work. I now had to sell this house, and the huge piece of land it’s on. So I focused on the land. I hosted a big lunch and took everyone around the property on a 4-wheeler. That 4-wheeler is what sold it – because the buyer could see the land and envision what he could do with it, what he could build and what he could make.”
If Zingheim has said it once, she’s said it a thousand times: Buying or selling is not the time to cut corners.
“Prospective clients really need to look at what they’re getting from the different agents,” she says. “I think a lot of people who go flat-fee are maybe one step up from For Sale By Owners. But when we come in and show the advantages of using a RE/MAX agent – including that we work to customize each experience to meet their needs and timeline – they see the value in that.”
“Clients deserve a seasoned agent who knows the marketplace, who knows what they’re doing, who’s going to research every aspect of a property before they make a purchase. It’s not a volume mentality at RE/MAX, it’s a quality mentality,” she says. “If a buyer or seller is working with a discount agent, I’m not sure they’re getting that.”
As for Hatter, she stresses the need to differentiate real estate from retail. No two transactions are alike, and the service needs to reflect that.
“The legalities of every transaction are different. A transaction rarely follows a checklist or parameters that are determined by an algorithm,” she says. “A full-service agent adds value through negotiating, risk mediation and simply being present to handle every detail that may be discovered during the transaction.”
And now for the LIE:
All full-service agents are created equal. (That’s not even close to being true!)
“It’s always about how can we better serve clients? How can we do better and do the best job out there?” Zingheim says. “Everyone at RE/MAX, from the top down, is invested in the success of the agents for the benefit of the clients. It’s not just a numbers game. The network is all about creating community and delivering excellent service. We have phenomenal brokers, we have great managers and we work alongside the best agents.”
For even more shareable RE/MAX content (including videos, quizzes and more!), visit buzzfeed.com/remax.