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How hard can it be? From the outside looking in, real estate agents have it so easy. Right? They work whenever they want, make lots of money and hardly do anything. While I grew up in Montana, I have moved many times across the country and even across Montana. I didn’t understand how hard Realtors work, until I became one! The truth is real estate is a lot of things, but easy isn’t one of them. As professionals, we face constant challenges, many of which are hidden from our clients. Things I’ve learned:

1. Not all agents are the same. Different agents have different specialties but most importantly you want an agent whose personality and negotiation style matches yours. Oh, and by the way you’re not automatically going to get a better deal if you work with the listing agent!

2. Working with a Realtor requires loyalty. And that meant from me too, as a buyer or a seller. Your agent is going to spend hours working with and for you with the belief they can find a house for you or sell you home, with no guarantee of compensation. Hire an agent, research the Buyer Broker Agreement and let them go to work with and for you. You are more likely to get what you want and quicker if you work with one agent.

3. Guess what! About that house you just stopped in front of and are dying to see inside! I get it! Its exciting and the market is hot BUT you need to contact your Realtor and arrange a showing. Give the people some time to straighten things up, load up the car and the dogs. You would want the same courtesy if someone were coming through your house on short notice.

4. You are in control. If they are driving you around and suddenly you realize they are only showing you listings from their agency, that's a red flag. When I was looking, I thought “Wow, they have all the best houses.” Not necessarily. This happens far less with online searches and we as buyers can take control of the houses we want to see, but I didn’t have a clue.

5. Commissions! Yikes! Look how much it costs to sell my house. I get that too! Been there myself! Some things to consider: First, the comps that your Realtor provides you are comps available only through the MLS and that means that all of those comps have Realtor commissions built-in as the cost of selling your home. If you don’t want to use a Realtor, those costs shouldn’t be in your asking price. Secondly, Realtors are independent contractors running a small business. Out of that commission usually comes a fee they pay to their brokerage, if they are a franchisee, there is a franchise fee, then taxes and expenses including any they have paid to market your home, like photographs, staging or print advertising.

6. Good agents work really, really hard! Long hours, weekends, nights time away from children and family. Most do it because they love it.

I think if you followed a successful agent around for 30 days, you might make an incorrect diagnosis of ADHD, Depression, even Bi-polar! Because we are so, so invested in every transaction for you and your family, from every phone call, negotiation, inspection and appraisal until the day you sign at closing, the ups and downs of the business can be like a rollercoaster.

When something exciting happens like an accepted offer or a new listing, everything instantly becomes so exciting and the energy is full speed ahead. On the other hand, we become so invested in you and the transaction that when something disappointing happens to you as our clients, we are devastated too.

7. If you have ever had a commission only job, you understand the financial pressures involved in real estate. Just like the rollercoaster of going through a transaction, there are months where you feel like a rock star! Ready to start your own real estate reality show. Other months you wonder if you could beat that teenager out of the management job at McDonalds! Realtors budget like they will never get paid again. Nothing is promised in real estate.

8. HGTV is not real. Nope. Not even close.

So that's the glamorous life of a real estate agent! It isn’t always what it seems but it is a very rewarding and exciting career. This is what I love doing so I won’t be challenging that teenager anytime soon. Helping people with transitions; new babies, getting married, getting divorced, and the list goes on, is very rewarding. There are hundreds of Realtors in our market and the next time you see one, give them a hug! After all they are people too and their success depends on YOUR success!

Angie Enger is a broker and certified luxury home marketing specialist with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Montana Properties.

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