On the days that I get my morning coffee from outside the home, I usually go to an unnamed “largest coffee chain in America.” There are two locations of this same chain almost equal in distance to my home. They both are accessible via the same mobile app, and in a matter of moments, I can have my coffee ready for pick up. This chain prides itself on the uniformity of its products and service - so in theory, the coffee and experience should be exactly the same regardless of which location I choose to go. The fact of the matter, however, is, that is not the case.
For starters, in one location, the coffee that I typically get is $2.55, but in the other, it is $2.69. For those keeping score at home, that’s a fourteen cents difference. All things being equal, 14 cents is 14 cents … which certainly adds up over the course of a year. It doesn’t start and end there, however. At the cheaper location, they are often changing employees, so the coffee is inconsistent from week to week. When I get more than one coffee in an order, they sometimes include a tray, but more often leave the two or three cups just sitting there. At this discounted location, sometimes the coffee is ready in a few minutes, sometimes it’s not. At the other “more expensive” location, the people behind the counter have been there for months, they are usually friendly and consistent, and all orders of more than one cup include a tray without exception, in a matter of minutes.
It’s an invaluable lesson for me as I sip my morning coffee on the way to work. I have learned early in my career that there is seldom a real discount for genuine quality or service. In the real estate world, this couldn’t be truer or more prevalent. From online mortgage portals offering rates or service that seem unattainable to novice mortgage agents promising terms or conditions that I know they won’t be able to attain - to name a few – discount service providers seem to be garnering a lot of attention. Many prospects and clients have been lost to smooth-talking, undercutting salespeople, or automated self-serve mortgage portals that don’t know the difference between a FICO score and a FIFA score.
In a world dominated by social media circles, degrees of friendship separation, and spheres of online influence, it seems like everyone “knows a guy” that can offer them whatever service or product they need – “cheaper, faster, better.” Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. have made multi-billion-dollar businesses out of grouping interests, sharing information, and merging resources so that people can get information faster.
For some “basic” items and needs, these resources are invaluable and can lead to seamless transactions and discounted products. I continue to be amazed at how many people rely on lousy recommendations, unfit resources, and inexperienced professionals to handle major purchase items and important transactions.
When it comes to selling a house, buying a home or financing a house, the person with the most ‘likes’ or ‘shares,’ or most robust landing page, is not necessarily the one most suitable to handle your housing or financing needs. When selling, the highest offer isn’t always the best offer. When financing, the lowest term isn’t always the best mortgage; and when dealing with a professional, the lowest fee isn’t always the most advantageous. I have heard countless horror stories in the last few weeks alone of mortgage pre-approvals from clumsy brokers that were useless, real estate contracts with inept realtors or lawyers that dragged on for months – only to terminate for no good reason, and closings that have fallen apart at the last second because of issues that should have been avoided.
The realtor with the lowest commission is not always the best recommendation just because your friend or neighbor used them, and your friend or cousin who is in the mortgage business, or who “knows a guy” isn’t always the most suitable to address your specific needs. One of the most valuable services that I provide is custom-tailoring the consultation to my client’s unique situation. Particular recommendations are appropriate for one type of transaction, whereas a completely different level of advice and guidance is warranted for another. In the end, experience, knowledge, competence, and skill will always bring the most value.
Shout out to Dov, Yonah, Daphna and especially Fraidy for reading my article last week!
By Shmuel Shayowitz
Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker, and direct lender. Approved Funding is a mortgage company offering competitive interest rates as well as specialty niche programs on all types of Residential and Commercial properties. Shmuel has over 20 years of industry experience including licenses and certifications as certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. He can be reached via email at [email protected]