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At Home: Roll that real estate

Marni Jameson: If you are looking to either lease your home or sell it, consider using two specialized agents, one in the rental market and one in sales, with certain agreements for both sides.
BY MARNI JAMESON Published: July 2, 2012

A month ago — and halfway through his two-year lease — the tenant who rents my house in Colorado told me he'd bought a house.

“But wait! You have a house, my house, for another year!”

“I didn't say I wasn't going to pay rent,” he said dialing my fret factor down from skyrocket-high to merely ceiling high. “I said I bought a house.”

“But what about ...” and I hated myself for sounding so needy and dependent but the word flew out ... “us?”

“I've thought about that,” he said.

And the negotiations began.

If I'd let him out of his lease by the date he wanted to move into his new house, he would pay me a “convenience” fee. Meanwhile, I could find a new tenant or buyer. If I didn't find either, he'd still pay rent until I did or until lease was up, whichever came first. But the house would sit empty.

I considered my options: Cry. Scream. Pretend this wasn't happening. Get professional help. I tried all of them.

Eventually, I shared my saga with a real estate agent who's had success selling in my neighborhood: “He wants to be relieved of his liability,” I told her. “I want a warm body in the house that will cover the costs.”

When I was done ranting, she had just one question: “Are you going to write about this?” She sounded worried.

As we talked further about how to best attract a buyer or a tenant, she suggested I hire someone else.

“You're firing me?” I asked.

“No, in addition to me.”

“Two agents?”

“I do sales. You should also have a leasing agent. I'll send you some names.”

I flashed back to the time a few years ago when I was almost someone. I was so close to being someone, in fact, that I managed to wind up with three agents — a literary agent, a speaking agent, a talent agent. This wasn't my idea.

I always knew I was a handful, but having three agents to manage my so-called act was just hilarious. You and I both know I'm just a writer with a neurotic home design obsession and endless other problems.

But that experience taught me that whether marketing talent (in the loosest sense) or houses, agents specialize.

As of this month I have two more agents — one to sell my home, one to lease it.

“Was this really necessary,” I asked Alan Smith, a broker/owner for REMAX in Littleton, Colo., who handles home sales, not rentals. “If I had a client who wanted to rent or sell, I'd do just what your sales broker did. I don't know many agents who do both, and I'd be very cautious of any who said he did.”

That said, today, homeowners who want to roll their real estate have good reason to enlist both.

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