Realtor Radar

Agents I have known (and even liked).

The real estate profession is unlike any other. Realtors must perfect the art of the deal while negotiating between two parties who are making emotionally charged decisions regarding probably the largest single purchase those parties will ever make in their lives.

It’s enough to make anyone a little crazy—or, shall we say, eccentric. Perhaps that’s why most realtors seem to be a breed apart. Among the many I’ve known and even come to like, I’ve noticed some definite personality types.

The celebrity. This gal has her face plastered all over town. She has the biggest ad in the local newspaper and is always No. 1 in sales for her branch office. She drives a big Mercedes, and has big hair and a big smile. A real go-getter, but don’t bother to call if you don’t have a seven-figure deal for her.

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The marketing pro. A recent graduate of Dale Carnegie, this guy inundates you with a barrage of paraphernalia reminding you that he is WAITING FOR YOUR CALL. He cruises the streets, knocking on doors and handing out refrigerator magnets with his name and phone number. Look around your kitchen, and you’ll see his name and number everywhere—on notepads, bottle openers, corkscrews.

The housewife. She got bored when the kids started school, so she decided on a career she could do part time. The extra money comes in handy, but your deal isn’t essential to her financial and emotional well-being. If she has a kid home sick, you might look at a property in a minivan littered with McDonald’s wrappers, accompanied by a 6-year-old with chicken pox.

The desperate guy. He needs a deal so bad you can almost taste it for him. His car is gasping its last breath, his shoes are worn down at the heels, and his tie is about 20 years out of style. He is eager, even anxious, to show you anything and everything. He promises he can sell your place quick. You can work a deal with this guy on his commission, but you won’t feel good about it.

The barracuda. The realtor’s equivalent of a political huckster, the barracuda is smooth and carries no emotional baggage. He’s not going to hold your hand while you explain that it’s going to be hard to sell the house where you’ve raised your family for the past 30 years. He only sees the deal at the end of the tunnel.

Your mother’s best friend who just got into real estate. This should go without saying: Run, don’t walk, to the nearest refrigerator magnet and call that person. He/she will be better than getting involved in a triangle with your mother and her friend, whose feelings you will surely hurt by being too demanding, too wishy-washy, too knowledgeable—you get the idea.

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The father/son, mother/daughter duo. The latest trend in the profession—the experience of the older generation matched with the ambition and energy of the younger generation. You’ll never be able to get away from this team.

The juggler. Since the real estate profession lends itself to flexible hours, many realtors have second or third careers to tide them over during tough times. So don’t be surprised when your realtor offers to cater your kid’s birthday party. Just be careful you’re not signing a catering contract when the time comes to turn your mortgage papers into the bank.

The realtor who’s too nice. And you thought there was no such thing. They’re too polite to suggest your home is a dump and will only sell if you call in a demolition team. And they show you truly terrible homes (“All you have to do is knock out a few walls, and you’ll have a great place!”).

Get the barracuda on his cell—quick.

Kathy Stevenson is a freelance writer living in Haverford.

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