Black Lab Remodeling

Realtors: Here’s What Your Contractor Is Saying Behind Your Back

Let’s face it, Realtors and Contractors have a love-hate relationship.  Often times, Realtors need the help of Contractors to get a home ready for sale.  Often times when the Contractor comes on to the scene they are asking for a lot of money.  It can feel like Contractors are using the immediacy of the need to hike up the prices they are charging.  So the Realtor feels like they need to do right by their client and find the lowest priced Contractor to do the job.  It should be an easy job any way right?  For a Contractor, who does this all the time, they’ll be in and out and on their way, why should the homeowner pay what seems to be a small fortune to mediate a small rot issue?  It’s small bathroom, how much could it possibly be?  Is it really needed to update the electrical or the plumbing? This builds tension, whether vocalized or not, in the relationship between Realtor and Contractor.  So how do we resolve this tension?  Is it impossible for these two industries to get along and to better serve their common client, the homeowner?  I think no, it is not impossible, but first we need to address how each views the other.  Then we can discuss how to change the relationship so everyone wins, especially the homeowner.

How the Contractor is viewed.  I’ll be the first to admit, Contractors have a, well lets just say, colorful reputation and for good reason.  For the most part, Contractors have created a well deserved reputation of being disorganized, using colorful language, being uneducated or under educated, lazy, unreliable and in some extreme cases, crooks.  So when a Realtor or a homeowner calls the Contractor their main concern is usually, will this contractor actually do what they say they are going to do, when they say they are going to do it and not run off with my client’s or my money?

How the Realtor is viewed.  This is going to hurt.  I don’t want to sugar coat it, so please, know this is coming from a place of caring.  From the Contractor’s view point the Realtor is seen as a self absorbed, holier than thou, drama queen/king, who thinks it is their personal job to beat up any and all services that are going to be needed, and always trying to schedule them at the very last possible minute, if not 3 months too late.  All so they can maximize their commission and “protect” the poor defenseless homeowner from the world.  When the Contractor sees the phone number of a Realtor pop up on their phone, their first thought is, “Oh, dear lord!  What are they going to try to suck from my soul and get for free now?!”

I don’t know how this relationship between our two industries got started, but what I do know, is there is a better way for us to work together.  To both maximize the client’s experience and to expedite the sale of the home.  If you’re interested in finding out what that might look like, please keep reading.

Which comes first, the Realtor or Contractor?  Like the chicken and the egg question, often times when a home owner is thinking about selling their home they are faced with a choice: do I call the Realtor or do I call the Contractor?  If they are thinking about updating their home, they may call the Contractor first. If they are thinking of just putting the house on the market as is, they’ll call the Realtor.  So the question then becomes, when should the other get involved.  I would propose, as soon as possible.  If, for example, a homeowner calls the Contractor and says something along the lines of, “We’re wanting to sell our home in the next 12 months, and want to do some updates to it before hand.”, the Contractor should be asking a question like, “What suggestions has your Realtor made regarding the trends that help homes in your market sell faster?” This gives the homeowner a chance to make the right improvements using the expert advice that a true Real Estate Professional can provide.

If on the other hand, a homeowner calls a Realtor, and says, “I’d like to put my house on the market.”, the Realtor could ask a question like, “What have you done to prepare your home for the current market?”  This will give the Realtor an idea of where the homeowner is in the process, and when they should schedule a home inspection.  Ideally, as soon as the homeowner decides to move forward with the Realtor, they should be reaching out to the Contractor.  The reason is so that they can call a licensed, Professional Contractor to establish a realistic budget and timeline for how long it will take for any repairs, renovations or other projects so they can schedule a realistic listing date.  Remember to allow time for permits, and Contractors being scheduled out in advance.

The reality is that both the Realtor and the Contractor should be on the same team working to help the homeowner have the best possible experience in this stressful time.  What would it be like for a Realtor if they could have a relationship with a Contractor who would answer their phone when they called, was professional with them and their clients, and didn’t have to be babysat to make sure they get the job done?  What would it mean to a Realtor if they could use that time that was spent on babysitting a Contractor, or scheduling several different Contractors, for other aspects of the business?  How much time and money could it save if they just had to call one Contractor, who could organize everyone needed, including the house cleaning so that it would all be done in a orderly fashion and once the Contractors were done, the house would remain show ready? How much more could they do for their book of business if they didn’t have to be the coordinator of hardhats?

Realtors, you need your Contractors to charge appropriately for their services.  Here is the reason why- when a Contractor who doesn’t understand their business and the costs that are associated with it, they underbid the project.  When they underbid the project, one of two things happens.  First, they come to the homeowner saying they need more money to finish the job.  Sometimes this was the plan all along, they low ball the project to get the job knowing that  it will cost more and then when everything is torn out, they come back with their hand out.  At best, this is poor planning on the Contractors behalf. At worst, it is down right criminal and doesn’t look good on the Contractor or the Realtor who recommended them to the homeowner.  Second, the Contractor stops showing up to the job site, they start ghosting the homeowner and you, the agent.  What is the Contractor doing?  Well, at best, they’re trying to figure out how to finish the job and will eventually come back around. At worst, they are working other jobs trying to make up cash flow and they’ll eventually become so embarrassed to even try coming back that you’ll never see or hear from them again.

Contrast that to hiring a Contractor who knows the actual costs of the project and charges appropriately to cover their overhead; actually runs their company as a business, not just as a craftsman with a bank account, you and the homeowner can expect that the Contractor will be showing up on time, keeping the project moving forward and even complete the project on time (baring any major surprises, which they would have already discussed the possibility of those with you and the homeowner already).  Why? Because they are getting paid what the project costs and they are making money on the job.  Is it a bad thing that they make money on the project?  Is it a bad thing you make money on the sale of the home?  I’ll just go ahead and say no to both.

You also need and want your Contractor to charge for a formal proposal.  Why? How many times have you scheduled an time for you or the homeowner to meet with a Contractor? Taken time off, or worse the homeowner took time off, and the Contractor didn’t show up?  How many times has a Contractor, or several Contractors come out for free, spend time with you and the homeowner and they never submit a proposal?  Why would they do this?  Many of the same reasons as above.  If the Contractor is getting paid for their time, they will show up to the appointed time, they will take their time to think of every possibility of what could happen so that it can be planned for and contingencies can be made a head of time.  They will actually submit a proposal.

As a Realtor, you are considered a professional in the eyes of the homeowner.  Why would you put anything less than another professional in front of your homeowner client?  Why would you recommend someone who will take up your valuable time or the time of your homeowner?  If you had a professional partner on your side, who shared the same vision of helping the homeowner to sell or buy a home, what could that do for your business?

How can you tell if you have a Contractor who can be this partner for you?  Here are some things to look for and ask.

  • What kind of online presence do they have?  In this day and age, everyone looks to social media for answers and recommendations.
  • How active is your Contractor on social media?  Do they help out in community pages, not just saying, “Call me,” but do they give helpful advice?
  • How many platforms are they on?
  • What does their website look like, do they even have a website?  How transparent is the information on the website?  Do they list pricing?
  • What do their vehicles look like? Do they have their name and information on them?  If not, why don’t they want people to know about them?  Are their vehicles clean outside and in?
  • Do they have uniforms?
  • What are their procedures for keeping job sites clean?
  • Are they licensed?  If not, what liabilities are you assuming by recommending them to your client?

If both of our industries can begin to treat each other as colleagues rather than adversaries, who stands to gain the most?  My money would be on the homeowners, which will ultimately mean both our industries will end up winning big as well. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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