Hiring a coach seems to be the thing to do. Whether getting us over a personal hurdle or a professional one, more and more people are using coaches to help them achieve.
But real estate coaches are still relatively rare. Perhaps some of us still see an awkward alignment between our high school coach and today’s real estate advisors: “Those loan papers aren’t filled out? Drop and give me 20!!” Still others might wonder whether a coach in real estate is redundant, perhaps duplicating the efforts of a good agent.
Yet both real estate agents and real estate coaches agree that it makes sense to work with both in a number of circumstances.
“Those who say it’s just one or the other are missing an opportunity,” says real estate coach Loral Langemeier, owner of Get REAL, Inc.
Langemeier says that, particularly for market knowledge and comparable properties, or “comps”, a real estate agent’s involvement is key, particularly for someone buying a home for the first time, or buying their first investment property. “As you grow, there’s a middle period where an agent may not make sense,” she explains.
But on the other end of the market, Langemeier believes that an agent is definitely needed. “At the high end, yes. For example, we bought 170 houses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an investment. We had so much to do, it would be foolish not to use a realtor,” she explains.
In fact, Langemeier says that often, she tells clients who believe they can work without a real estate agent that having one is key. “The important thing is, just get a deal done, regardless of who you use,” she says. “The number one error with newbies is that they were told not to use an agent but then they don’t close the deal. I say to them, ‘If you’re scared to death, maybe an agent can help.'”
Real estate coach Lynn Myhal, PCC, sees her role as more motivational than information-specific. “I always like to make sure people with worth agents. A first-time buyer, especially, can get a lot of information by working with an agent.”
Myhal works from the opposite end, making sure the client is ready to step into their new role, either as a homeowner or investor. “The coaching mostly deals with things getting in our way and not letting us take action,” she says. “With investors, it’s, ‘I don’t want to be a landlord; how would I do that?’ People stop short and say, ‘I won’t do ‘x’ because I don’t know how to do ‘x’.”
In fact, Myhal often helps her clients reach the stage where an agent is needed. “I often refer them to professionals. But first, it’s getting buyers to that place. Sometimes people would rather pay this high rent because they think they don’t have enough money.” Myhal points out that history is on their side, however. “New buyers take on debt they can’t imagine, but 30 years later, they’ll laugh at the amount,” she notes.
Those negative beliefs can prevent someone from owning real estate – or even taking the first step. “Belief can keep people in a state of living they don’t need to be in,” she adds.
Sharon Whipkey previously made her living as a coach, and for several years has now worked as a real estate agent. While she considers herself both, she says there are good reasons for hiring a real estate coach in addition to working with an agent.
“The real estate coach has no agenda. The coach’s agenda is the same agenda as the client’s,” she explains, noting that an agent, who is making a commission, may not have the same objective perspective.
“But I come in at that same place,” she says, noting that her coaching background plays a large role in her approach to real estate. “It doesn’t matter whether I buy a home or sell a home. It’s really what my clients want. It’s not about making a commission; it’s about the client getting what they want.”
Whipkey’s mixed agent and coach approach provide her clients with additional insight. “I have the buyers make a list of what they want, of what is a ‘must’ and what is ‘nice to have’. And if they are a couple, I have each person make their list separately.” Such an exercise, Whipkey notes, often results in clearer communication between the couple and with the agent, as the couple realizes that what their mate thought was a “must” is really just a nice idea or vice versa.
But the unique difference, Whipkey says, is that she brings her coaching skills to the physical inspection of homes with her clients. “As we look at homes, I distinguish the difference between ‘I could live in this’ and “Wow! Look at this!’ I’m paying attention to those clues, and that’s really what coaching is, paying attention to what’s being conveyed, but not necessarily to what’s being said,” she explains. That holds true, she adds, whether she is assisting a first-time buyer or someone who already owns a home and is buying additional real estate as an investment.
But she believes, too, that being physically with the client has distinct advantages. “The difference between a coach and an agent is that I’m there to see the reality when you look at the house. I’m seeing your actual reaction to the house and the house itself, something a coach wouldn’t get.”
Even so, Whipkey is clear that her relationship with real estate coaches is not adversarial. “I really respect coaches. I still see myself, largely, as a coach. All I did was switch the environment in which I did the coaching,” she explains, by obtaining her real estate license and becoming an agent. “If coaches are knowledgeable in the real estate industry, they can be extremely helpful.”