Here’s what real estate agents should learn from contractors
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Matt Blashaw has a unique vantage point on the real estate market.
After starting his career as a spec home builder in California, Blashaw earned his real estate license in 2007 and learned the ins and outs of real estate doing distressed sales
during the housing downturn. But his big break came in 2008 when he landed a job as host of the DIY Network’s Deconstruction, launching a career hosting shows such as Project Xtreme, Professional Grade, and Yard Crashers on DIY and HGTV.
After settling with his family in Kansas City, Blashaw has returned to his roots as a contractor and real estate agent, where his diverse background helps him provide a unique experience for his clients. “I really enjoy that — having that homebuilding education and delivering that education over to the homebuyers so that they can make a good decision,” he says.
Not every real estate agent can take a career detour through home construction and television production, but they can benefit from educating themselves about as many parts of the home as possible. Here are three things Blashaw has learned from his contractor background that any agent can apply to their own business.
1. Energy is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise.
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Most homebuyers have little familiarity with the energy sources that serve their home, and that’s especially true for homes in rural or semirural areas that lack access to natural gas. If the home uses propane, for example, buyers might have a lot of questions — but they might also be pleasantly surprised by what they learn.
“From what I see with propane, the benefits are incredible,” Blashaw says. “Not only are we using a clean-burning fuel, it’s very, very efficient. And also, you have your energy right there on the property, ready to use.” He likes to tout the possibility of installing a propane standby generator, especially given the threat of tornadoes disrupting power in his market, as well as amenities like propane cooking, dryers, and fireplaces. “Show them the benefits so they’re not thinking that it’s going to be a small little portable propane cylinder in the back of your house,” he says.
2. Buyers are becoming savvier about home energy efficiency.
Blashaw has found that buyers today are more conscious about energy efficiency not only for its environmental impact but also as away to adapt to the country’s stressed power grid. They’re learning about efficient low-E windows, the benefits of enhanced insulation, and the different SEER ratings of their air conditioning.
With a greater push for electrification, however, Blashaw foresees a mixed-energy approach — such as combining systems like high-efficiency propane water heaters with other energy-saving mechanical systems — helping to avoid the potential for higher electricity costs. “Just the little bit of knowledge coming from you, and delivering it in a very basic way, is going to help them with their choice,” Blashaw says.
3. Add value by consulting on upgrades.
While he has to be careful about when to act as a real estate agent or a contractor, Blashaw’s construction background allows him to help envision future upgrades and renovations, and provide ballpark price ranges. He can also help buyers understand the pros and cons of various appliances or mechanical systems and evaluate whether they’ll need to make an upgrade after purchasing.
Likewise, when he’s working with a seller or investor, Blashaw helps analyze the likely pool of buyers to consider when a preemptive upgrade might help a home sell faster or at a higher price. Mentioning propane amenities like a range or standby generator in the listing can also start a conversation with the buyer or buyer’s agent and provide an opportunity to educate them.
After working with many owners of homes powered by propane, Blashaw can speak from experience. “Every single one of them absolutely loves it and loves the benefits that comes from propane,” he says, making it an easy conversation. “It’s like: ‘Hey, this is how this is going to benefit you, benefit your family. And really, it’s going to benefit the environment.’”
Even if you don’t have a contractor background, you can showcase your expertise for your clients by sharing our guide for homeowners: Building or Remodeling Your Propane Dream Home.
Propane and the Environment
Be prepared for your clients’ questions about home energy efficiency and the environment. Get the facts about propane’s environmental benefits.