Do the job right and always ask ‘why’
- Having a basic understanding of contracting and repairs will help you when it comes to advising your clients, who might either overestimate or underestimate issues.
- Always be objective when delivering information to clients. It ultimately has to be their decision.
- Inspections upfront are always a good idea — whether you’re representing a buyer or seller.
Our latest Agent Spotlight features Albany-based Realtor Brent Miklowitz, with Realty USA. Brent and his family are staples in the community as his family has been running their local contracting business out of Schenectady County for three generations. Having spent his summers growing up working for the family business, Brent developed a knowledge of contracting that provides an invaluable resource to his clients as he guides them through the home buying and/or selling process. His father’s business model of always doing the job right and never taking shortcuts is something that Brent has adapted and has helped him build a sustainable real estate business off of trust and referrals.
Born and raised in Schenectady, New York, Brent grew up helping to maintain his family’s various investment properties. He was immersed in local real estate and learned all about rental laws and turn over. However, he didn’t exactly plan on a career in real estate. After college in Jacksonville, Florida where he earned a degree in Business Management, he moved to Los Angeles where he connected with a Sigma Chi Alumni group. “A brother helped me get started in B2B sales. It was helpful to connect with him because I immediately gained exposure to a network even though I was in a completely new place where I didn’t really know anyone”.
Brent eventually moved back to New York where he combined his contracting background, local knowledge, and real estate experience to establish himself as an agent. “My approach to my business now is one that I took from my dad. Do the job right you give them a fair price. That creates the trust, integrity, and loyalty.”
Q: How often do you draw on your contracting knowledge in your work?
A: All the time. Just having a basic understanding of structure and codes, having the instinct to be able to identify if something isn’t right, it’s very important. And I always ask ‘why’. If you notice something strange from the inside, always look outside. Buyers often don’t understand, they don’t how big the problem might be. They’ll say ‘I’ll just fix it’, so it’s my duty to help them understand what they might be getting into. I can’t give technical advice to a client, but I make sure I can at least connect them to the right people or help them get proper estimates.
Q: What are your rules when it comes to advising your clients?
A: I always advise my clients to get their own inspections. I don’t want it on my shoulders if my clients get into a bad situation because we didn’t do our due diligence. When we get the reports back I have to be very objective, of course. I look at what we know and I present the facts, I tell them the best case scenario and worst case scenario and then they have to make the decision. As the agent, my reputation is on the line so I make sure that my clients have all information they need in order to make the best decision, whether it’s for their family or for an investment. If my clients ever have legal questions, I advise them to ask a lawyer, I never give legal advice. If my clients don’t want to get an inspection, I ask them to sign a waiver. This takes the liability off of me.
When preparing a property to go on the market, I always advise my sellers to take care of any items they know of or know that a home inspector will point out. Sometimes it’s small things that only cost a few hundred dollars but if they’re not taken care of, the cost could get negotiated 5X more off of the purchase price. I ensure that the seller gets top dollar for their home by identifying such items and encouraging them to make the repairs.
Q: What advice would you give on inspections?
A: Always try to go with an inspector you know and trust. Inspections can be pricey but if the inspector misses something, it could end up costing a lot more in the long run. It also helps to be familiar with the way they write their reports. There will always be hundreds of items on a report, most of them hopefully will be minor. But I’ve had clients get really scared because of the way it was written.
Q: What do you look for when you’re showing a property? What are some red flags?
A: Always look for signs of foundation issues, any cracks. I always want to know the condition of the roof, if it will need to be replaced in the near future. I look for evidence of water damage. I’m very cautious when it comes to remodels. They might look nice but you need to make sure the work was done correctly. I’ve seen remodels where they’ve just removed load-bearing walls. Remodels aren’t as easy as they make it look on HGTV!
It’s scary for buyers because the seller isn’t required to disclose information on repairs that have been made. If something was repaired but it wasn’t done correctly or if a corner was cut, it becomes the new owner’s problem. That’s why I’m really inquisitive when I’m looking at a property. Again, always ask why.
Q: Would you say that doing the right thing for your clients, even if it’s meant not closing the deal at the time has lead to more referrals and more business?
A: Definitely. It can be difficult at the moment, I’ve had people get frustrated with me when things fall through. But they come to realize that I have their best interest in mind. It’s my duty to ensure that this large investment will bring in equity for them. The objective is that if and when they go to sell, they will be happy with their investment and they’re able to sell it for a higher price than they bought it for.