Most people know about 10 Real Estate Agents. But which one should you pick? Do you pick the one who is your friend? Do you pick the one with the best looking signs? The fanciest web page? Does it matter?
Realtor Carl Kvale (back left) and his team at Edina Realty (L to R) Kay Loeffler, Realtor; Chris Pinatiello, Realtor; and Molly Braune, administrative specialist. Contributed photo
“It does matter,” said Carl Kvale, Real Estate Agent with Edina Realty. “It matters a lot. We are not all the same. Not every real estate agent is created equal. We all have strengths and weaknesses. There is a difference and that difference can mean thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars.”
Kvale recommends getting as many referrals as possible when selecting a Real Estate Agent.
“If you talk to 10-20 people you will find that a few names always rise to the top,” he said.
Kvale is confident that his name will be one of those names at the top of the list in the Alexandria lakes area. He has been a Realtor in the area for 20 years and has consistently been one of the top sellers in the area.
What separates Kvale from other agents?
“My value is in my advice,” said Kvale. “My value isn’t in plunking down some signs in the yard, or taking high-resolution photos, or drone photography, the best website or even marketing. For the most part, all Real Estate Agents have the same tools in their tool belts. And all of those things are important, but that is not my main percentage of value. My value is truly in the advice that I give and the counsel I give you from start to finish.”
What makes a good Real Estate Agent? Kvale said Real Estate Agents should be judged by what he called “The Four Es — experience, expertise, ethics and energy.”
“If your Real Estate Agent doesn’t have experience, it doesn’t matter if they have ethics or energy. You are going to lose out,” said Kvale. “It is like anything else in life. The more you do anything, the better you get at it. When you shoot your first free throw, it is going to look terrible. It will be awkward. You won’t have good form. But if you keep shooting and shooting, and then you get some coaching and pick up some tips here and there, by the time you shoot 10,000 baskets, you are pretty good.”
It took years before Kvale felt he got to that point.
“There is a point where you truly master what you are doing. If you are truly engaged and into what you are doing, you are likely going to master it at some point. I think a person can always get better, but I think you get to a point where you know it so well that you can do it with your eyes closed. I think I reached that around year 13 or 14 in real estate. Each transaction and negotiation, you learn something. It only comes through experience. So getting advice from an agent who doesn’t have any experience is going to be very different than getting advice from an agent who has been doing it for 20 years.”
Kvale defines expertise as understanding the “dust particles” of real estate. These “particles” include the nuances of real estate, knowing what questions to ask, the art of negotiation with other agents, the psychology of dealing with buyers and sellers, and making sure that emotions don’t negatively affect the deal.
“Are you doing the right thing behind closed doors, when nobody is looking?” asked Kvale. “Am I doing the right thing that is in the best interest of my client, or am I doing something that will just benefit myself?”
Ethics is directly related to trust, and both contribute to reputation.
“In this business, for the most part, nobody seems to trust you at the start,” said Kvale. ”I know that going into every situation. Just because of what I do and the perception of Real Estate Agents. It is a big challenge to show people that I care about my customers and will do what is best for them. You try your best to help people feel like they can trust you through words, but ultimately, you have to show people.”
And doing the right thing every day eventually results in a good reputation.
“Reputation is a huge thing in real estate, especially in a small town,” said Kvale. “If you do the right thing every chance you possibly can, you will be fine. But your reputation will never be perfect because there will always be those people out there who misunderstood, or think you are doing something behind the scenes to compromise your offer or the deal. And the more money that is involved the more it heightens the situation. Trust is so huge. It builds your reputation. Good or bad.”
“Energy is just plain hard work, work ethics,” he said. “Are you shaking trees? Are you thumping every day? Are you making phone calls? Are you following up? Are you communicating properly?”
Carl Kvale, real estate agent, Edina Realty. Contributed photo
Energy is something that Kvale prides himself on.
“I am passionate about helping people understand that they are getting something more when they are calling me compared to what I call a transactional agent,” he said. “These are agents who just do what their clients tell them, fill out the paperwork and say ‘sign here.’ They are a chauffeur, they are a locksmith, and they are a paper pusher. They don’t offer any concrete, valuable advice to make or save that person thousands and thousands of dollars.”
Kvale said he works with Real Estate Agents every day. He said some have a couple of the four Es. And some have three Es. But, he said, the best Real Estate Agents are strong in all four.
Deciding on which Real Estate Agent is important, said Kvale, but some people don’t see the importance of being selective on who they choose. And for some people, a decision is made to not hire an agent at all. This move is risky, said Kvale, and often results in a risk.
“There is this negative perception in the public about Real Estate Agents that has been out there for years,” said Kvale. “And I find that it is the same for attorneys. I think it is because we don’t have a product that we sell. We are selling our advice. In the world of real estate, I don’t think we, as an industry, do a very good job understanding the value that we are offering the customer, or helping the customer understand what that value really is.”
Much like an attorney, the advice of a good Real Estate Agent can result in much better results.
“We hire attorneys to counsel and advise us through very complex legal matters. There is no law that says you need a lawyer. You can represent yourself. Typically we don’t do that because it can be daunting. The danger is not knowing what we don’t know. There is significant risk there,” he said. “The same principles apply in real estate. There is a big risk of not knowing what you don’t know. It is those nuances or dust particles of real estate floating around that people wouldn’t know unless they are doing this for 20 years and done hundreds of transactions.”
Even listing a small piece of land without a Real Estate Agent can result in lost money.
“Do you know where the corner markers are? Do you have an understanding of septic systems or wells? Do you have an understanding of the soil content and how that might impact the cost of the sewer? How about the abstract or title? These are certainly things that you can find out without a Real Estate Agent, but it is a matter of knowing when to ask the questions. Do you know what questions to ask?” he said. “It’s not worth saving the commission. My advice is going to pay for that commission. If someone has the attitude where they don’t see value in a Real Estate Agent, then they haven’t worked with very good ones. You don’t know a good one until you have one. You are getting something different here.”
Getting into Real Estate
“For me, I got really lucky. Real estate found me,” he said.
After high school, Kvale went to college to play football. He didn’t prioritize school, and his grades quickly dropped.
“I was young and naive. I lived day to day. All I wanted to do was play football. Football was my identity. Then I busted up my knee playing football. I rehabbed it and tried to come back, but finally decided to hang up my cleats and get out of football. Now what?”
Kvale moved to Aspen, Colo., for a bit to figure out his life.
“I grew up a little and then came back to Minnesota,” he said. He was working as a bartender at Ruby Tuesdays in the Twin Cities when the real estate industry found him. “First of all, I must say that bartending was the best training for me. You have to relate to all walks of life. You have a rich person on one end, you have a drunk wino on the other end, you have every color and all different kinds of people at the bar,” he said. “It taught me how to relate to and work with all of them. It was really great training.”
One day while bartending, the real estate seed was planted.
“I had one customer who came in every day for lunch at the bar. She was a Real Estate Agent. We hit it off,” he said. “One day she said, ‘You would make a great Real Estate Agent.’ That was my light bulb moment. It just took one person to plant the seed. I remember being intrigued by real estate, but I never thought about actually doing it.”
Being recently married and having his first child on the way, Kvale gave the real estate industry a shot.
“I got licensed and got my feet wet in the Cities,” he said. “I never got a sale in the Cities, but we moved to Alexandria, closer to family, and kept at it.”
The rest is history. Sales eventually came, and Kvale started learning and growing as a Real Estate Agent. Kvale said he was fortunate to start at the beginning of the real estate boom in the ‘90s, which helped him in the early years until he figured out the industry.
Today, Kvale is confident in his ability to buy and sell real estate in the four-county area. He has built a team (three full-time agents) and has hundreds and hundreds of deals under his belt.
“I would just like the opportunity to sit down and talk to you and show you the difference there is and the value that I can provide,” he said. “The value is truly in our advice.”