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by Cynthia Cummins

Cynthia is owner and founder of Kindred SF Homes and a top San Francisco Realtor. Check out RealEstateTherapy.org for refreshing reflections on the meaning of home and for more best real estate advice (since 2013).

Reading time: 2 minutes

Get close to your agent. Closer. CLOSER. There. That’s good!

You are wise to make your agent your confidante and BFF – at least temporarily. (If that doesn’t feel safe, you should consider finding a representative with whom you can be more vulnerable.)

Why? Because your agent can’t best serve you if she doesn’t have a full understanding of what’s happening in your life.

When buyers and sellers are less than forthcoming, the results can be less than ideal. Or they can be disastrous. Examples from my career:

A single woman who was – unbeknownst to me – pregnant. She was new to San Francisco and wanted to live in an edgy, exciting part of town. We found the perfect place! (Loft living in the Mission.) But as she later discovered, it was a child-unfriendly building on a downright dodgy block. Had I known a baby was on the way, I could have educated her about how, as a new parent, her needs might change and I would have actively discouraged her from buying there.

A couple who – unbeknownst to me – were contemplating a permanent separation. Their purchase of a home was an ill-conceived last-ditch effort to save the marriage. Two months after closing they called to say they were divorcing and could I send over a listing agreement.

Another couple (fervent SF Giants fans) who had decided – without telling me – to adopt twin girls. Our focus was on proximity to Oracle Park, bars, restaurants and BART or Cal Train. There had been no interest in the location of nearby playgrounds, grocery stores or schools. Their 1+ bedroom view condo in a South Beach high-rise proved to be painfully unpractical. Had I known…

A man who – surprise! – was seeking a dream job in his dream (non-San Francisco) location. Living in Europe was his fondest wish but he never mentioned this as a possibility. Just six months after purchasing his TIC share, he got the job offer of a lifetime and was packing his bags for Deutschland while I stared down the challenge of selling his property with the certain knowledge that he’d sustain a huge financial loss.

There are many more subtle situations that arise. Sellers who aren’t clear about the tax ramifications of a sale. Buyers who haven’t done any estate planning. Sellers who are in extreme financial distress and for whom time is of the essence. Buyers who assume they’ll qualify for financing but haven’t talked with a professional to learn about the problems associated with a past bankruptcy, a short work history, a gift of down payment from parents. Sellers who assume they can – presto! – ask their tenant to leave because they want to sell the house. Buyers who assume they can – presto! – ask a tenant to leave because they want to move into the house. Etc. etc. etc.

So much pain can be avoided by getting to know and getting to trust a trustworthy agent. Find one who feels like a friend. You may find a true-forever BFF.

Photo Credit: Ian Schneider

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