In life there are, as wise men and women say, only very few certainties. One, unfortunately for people who think they will live forever, is dreaded death. The other, even more unfortunately for us all, is unavoidable tax. Another certainty that can be added is that people don’t really like real estate agents. Some people even try hard to avoid them when selling or buying their property.
People sometimes use estate agents because they feel forced into it—and then gradually they realise that estate agents are hardly ogres who eat in their profits and are in fact good associates. When people use their services they realise that life without them is tough and less lucrative, and as Brian Micallef says “especially if they are as good and dependable as RE/MAX.”
The usual feeling about estate agents—and not just about the rogues out there or the inefficient ones—is that doing without their services means you earn more money. To most people who start dabbling in property the mantra “no agents” sounds like a cash register in their brain.
That was Brian Micallef’s line of thought. Brian works for an established contractor, Devlands, is the son of one of its founders and also runs his own company in construction and property development.
After being gently asked by Carmen Valletta, one of the RE/MAX agents working out of RE/MAX Crown Towers office, to place his properties on their database, Brain gave in and got them listed—a bit reluctantly at first. Soon after the interest in his properties grew and he never looked back.
He now says that the choice of RE/MAX was providential. Sales happened, the way the estate agents operated was close to perfect and he underwent a complete conversion—his aversion to estate agents became a true belief in RE/MAX and all they say.
“The money which seems lost in agency fees is way compensated,” Brian tells me “by the service, the promptness, the advice and the actual sale time. With RE/MAX things move and they know the market inside out. They do not, as I would have done if I did it alone, waste time chasing people who are not the right buyers for my properties. And with their knowledge and sales technique they actually achieve a proper and better deal. So the idea that you make more money without agents is totally mistaken.”
Brian was all praise for RE/MAX but he also said that he now believes that all agents who work professionally render a great service to the developers, the sellers and also the buyers. Less time wasted, more certainty of sale to the right person—what more can one ask for?
Brian is a quiet man but one who is resolute and ambitious. However, his ambition does not make him arrogant and he is very down-to-earth. In fact he phoned me to move our appointment by 15 minutes as he was stuck in traffic while picking up his daughter from school and was very apologetic about the delay, which in reality was no more than 10 minutes.
There are quite a few pointers connected to that phone call. He’s obviously a usually punctual person which in his work as contractor, developer and project manager is a great plus. And as I found out when I checked about him he delivers—on time every time.
The phone call also proved how polite he is. And he takes time off—properly planned—from his busy schedule to meet one of his daughters from school to take her home. And as we talk about family life he goes on to tell me that he does spend a lot of quality time with his children and his wife. Life is hardly just money, apartments and sales—life is about enjoying it.
“The thing that gives me most satisfaction in building,” Brian tells me “is when I start something from scratch and develop it completely. Seeing the land being cleared, the foundations laid, the walls and floors erected. And then being able to compare the empty space that preceded your work with the end result is exhilarating.”
“And what,” I ask Brian “is your main ambition?” I imagined he would mention something extravagant, a tower on the lines of Babel—but all he asks is that his life “is quite comfortable and to leave a few apartments for my two girls,” he tells me most matter-of-factly.
Brian developed a range of apartments in Mosta and most have already been sold on plan by RE/MAX. Brian is full of praise for the whole philosophy of RE/MAX and for their people. In fact he has recommended them to a number of friends and clients—and all have been as satisfied as him.
Life without death and taxes could be interesting. But, without RE/MAX or agents as good as them, selling and buying property would be a major headache.
By Victor Calleja