Real talk with your realtor: Be honest about your feelings

Real estate agents look at a house for their prospective clients in Miami, Fla.

People look at a foreclosed home in Seymour, Conn.

Real estate agent Jim Foote is seen in the home of Mark Bradin at 55 Lockwood Avenue in Old Greenwich, CT, during an open house.

There's no small amount of emotion involved when you're buying a home. It's important to know the market you're buying in, of course, but it's just as important to know your realtor. He or she is, after all, the enabler when it comes to getting that dream house. Your emotional partner, if everything works out right. So now, a realtor talking about realtors. Alison Rogers writes about that in this week's special section of the New York Times. She's a Manhattan-based real estate agent at DG Neary Realty and a columnist for Time.com.

"I actually think -- and I made this point in the Times story -- that the more honest you are with your realtor, the more your realtor can help you," says Rogers. "If the realtor knows that this is the property for you, then he or she will kill themselves to get it for you."

But by showing all your cards and letting an agent know you love a property, don't you risk paying more? Rogers says in the end it doesn't matter because a good, experienced agent will be able to tell when you are in love with a property. She's particularly fond of one clientele -- millennials.

"They're so very, very straightforward about what they want and what they need. They're so direct in their feedback. As a result, I would lie down on coals to make any of my millennial clients happy," she says.

On the other hand, Rogers says she dreads working to find a home for attorneys because by training they are very risk averse. Real estate requires a leap of faith that attorneys have difficulty making, she says.  

Because buying a house is such a huge financial and emotional decision, Rogers says most real estate agents try hard to make their clients happy (they also have another motivation -- they want to do future deals with you). But for homebuyers who are unsatisfied with their agent, she offers this tip: be upfront; let the agent know why it's not working out and give him or her a chance to change their behavior. If things don't turn around, fire them.


Mind Games &Money -- Browse other stories in our collaboration with the New York Times. Plus, take our quiz to see how much emotions impact your personal finances, see the 15 happiest and saddest U.S. cities based on tweets, watch a video explainer about "goodwill," and learn lots of good facts about money and emotions. Explore now.


Rogers says that as the housing market continues to recover from the collapse more than six years ago, people's emotions have changed as well.

"All real estate is local, so we really have seen two markets. In Manhattan, where I work, probably in some sections of L.A. where you are, in San Francisco, in D.C. it's still hot. There's a strong emotional factor of people getting into bidding wars and saying, 'Wait, I read in the paper that there was a housing collapse, how come I'm in a bidding war?' You have that in the hot, urban markets," says Rogers. "For people in markets where there really was a collapse -- markets like Phoenix or Miami -- the emotional factor has been 'I really don't want to let go of this house, where I spent so many Thanksgivings. And darnit, do I really have to take a 30 percent loss?' So it's almost insult upon injury."

These days, Rogers says the marekt's generally a little harder for buyers than sellers because with the explosion of Internet data, choice is now infinite. You can take two, three years to buy a property now because there's always new things that pop up on your computer, she says. 

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

People look at a foreclosed home in Seymour, Conn.

Real estate agent Jim Foote is seen in the home of Mark Bradin at 55 Lockwood Avenue in Old Greenwich, CT, during an open house.

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