It’s the political season and we’re being inundated from all sides with debates, interviews, and commercials. The recurring theme that I see seems to be politicians speaking in generalities. When they’re asked a direct question about a plan they have to solve an issue, the response is usually some circuitous generalization. Here’s a spoof of what I’m talking about…
UPDATE: Embedded video removed … see it here.
I don’t understand why politicians cannot answer questions clearly and directly. It’s important to me that my representatives are knowledgeable and curious about current events and the world around them. Most importantly, I want to be sure that they have ideas about how to address today’s major issues. How can I feel good about hiring them to represent me if I don’t know what they stand for or what they plan to do to help me and my fellow citizens?
Many times I see real estate agents take the politician approach. The market is doing “fabulously” or is “challenging.” But that’s as far as they go. They don’t back it up with statistics. They don’t know how many days it is taking homes to sell in their market. They don’t know if their town is a buyer’s or seller’s market. They don’t read the local papers or follow the national news to understand how the local economy is being affected by the national economy. The last time they took a class was two years ago and it was because the state board of Realtors required it for relicensing.
Agents with a curiosity and an interest in learning offer a distinct advantage over agents that do the minimum. The MLS offers all the data an agent needs to understand local markets. The agent just has to make the effort to search the data and make sense of it. Local and national newspapers and news programs help us understand the economy and how our market fits into it. The agent just has to take time to do some critical thinking to form an opinion. Independent financial blogs and newspapers are additional resources that help us understand the mortgage market and loan programs available. Classes offered by the local and state board of Realtors help us stay current on new trends such as short sales and internet marketing.
Don’t get caught up in the aura and showmanship of an agent. Make sure that they are curious and knowledgeable about their markets. When you’re interviewing your agents, it’s your opportunity to play “gotcha” journalism. Ask them all the questions you want about the markets you’re interested in. Do they give you facts and figures? Specific examples of recent sales in which they’ve been involved? Recent classes they’ve taken to stay current? After you put them through the paces, you’ll feel much more comfortable about them representing you.