Homework is a Valuable Asset

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the May 1973 issue of the R.E. News Observer.

Some months ago at a meeting of Exchangors, I offered a “want” for some clients interested in the purchase of units in the $500,000 to $1 million price range. Method of purchase and over-all client objectives were stated.

After the meeting, one supposedly knowledgeable broker approached me and said he had a certain package priced at $750,000. I asked him to mail back-up materials. He replied, “I don’t have them, but make me an offer. We can get the figures.”

Make me an offer! I regard myself as a fairly patient man, but “make me an offer. We can get the figures.” I turned and walked away.

How can I, a supposedly intelligent and capable broker, ask my astute and sophisticated clients to make an offer on a “pig in a poke?” I can’t! I would look ridiculous and also lose the client’s respect. Either the other broker had an unwilling client difficult to deal with, or he was unwilling to do his homework.

Brokers who don’t do their homework are usually those who acquire the reputation for loose dealings, withholding of information, and misrepresentation.

Facts, even negative ones, should be known and divulged. Negative facts usually can be corrected and subsequently turn a bad situation into a positive one. Misrepresentation cannot be easily corrected.

Homework isn’t easy. In order to do it properly and ensure inclusion of all necessary and important facts, I use a “Land Check List” of 36 cogent questions, each of which I usually have to have answered before closing either an exchange or sale. I also have a 41-question list for income properties.

These homework checklists assure everything is in order and nothing is missed or forgotten. They allow me to properly prepare the package and organize back-up materials. They enable me to do my homework in a businesslike, professional manner.

Use of the checklist while asking the client questions gives me complete control. It assures the client that I’m thorough and capable. After sufficient counsel, the client learns that I ask the same questions of everyone. The answers tell me how realistic the client is and that his problem is solvable.

Usually, there are questions the client can’t answer directly. He agrees to research the information and bring it to our next counseling session. The checklist is a tool to make him realize that he will benefit from helping me to do thorough homework.

Compile your own checklist. Proper homework eliminates confusion and misunderstanding. It permits you to communicate more effectively and more accurately. Complete homework and your checklist are valuable tools to use in dealing with other brokers, too. They can be mailed anywhere and immediately allow the other broker to learn what you require in order to spend your time working with him.

I promise you that as soon as you pull out your homework checklist and methodically begin work, you immediately remove yourself from the rank of “tin-cupper.” Your checklists help build your image as a professional in the real estate profession.

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