Making the transition from a registered nurse into real estate has been more difficult than I could ever imagine. After all, I am in my early 40s. The myth that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks may not be entirely true.

A more widely accepted truth is that an old dog can learn new tricks. It just takes a little longer.

But my honest opinion is that neither one of those things is true when applied to humans (and not canines). My 17-year career as a nurse has given me more insight on how to run and operate my real estate business than I ever would have imagined. I take the challenge of real estate head on every day and implement the skills I learned in nursing — especially when it comes to time management and deadlines.

If you’ve ever spent time as a patient in a hospital, you’ve noticed that medications, treatments, procedures and doctor visits are all structured on a schedule, which is followed to the minute.

Let me give you an example.

If you are home, you wake up. You might fix yourself some breakfast. You might watch some news. Then you take your morning medications at around 10 a.m. Most of us aren’t sticklers for taking a vitamin or daily medication at the exact same time every day.

That’s not the case in the medical industry. In the hospital, certain medications are given at designated times. Medications are routinely due at specific military times — 0900, 1200, 1400 and 1600. Daily nursing activities are based on date, time, deadlines and structure.

If we give a patient’s medication an hour late, then we have made a medication error. If a procedure is scheduled for 1000 and we do not get it done until 1200, we just made a nursing error.

You might be asking yourself, “How does this apply to my real estate business?” Well, as a former nurse, I take every REPC (real estate purchasing contract) very seriously. If I cannot meet those deadlines, then I have made an error.

Nothing irritates me more than putting an offer acceptance deadline in a contract that’s then ignored or disregarded by the other agent. The same goes with settlement deadlines. I want to close my deal on or before the deadline. In my opinion, there are very few excuses for having to extend a settlement deadline. (Government red tape is probably the only acceptable one.)

Below are four tips for making sure all your contract deadlines are met:

1. Be realistic when setting your deadlines. Talk to your clients about their expectations and be cognizant of what you are asking your fellow agents to do. Most people understand deadlines, but not when you expect an unreasonable, unrealistic turnaround time.

2. When making a buyer offer on a home, send the contract via email to the selling agent. In the body of your email, write the offer price and the acceptance deadline. Make it clear you expect a response on or before that time. Then, give that agent a phone call stating the contract is on its way. In that phone call, detail the offer as well as note the acceptance deadline. (It’s important here to be realistic.)

3. Once that offer is accepted, mark the deadlines in every calendar you have available. On my paper calendar and my dry erase board, I use different colors for my deadlines. For instance:

  • Buyer due diligence is marked in yellow to signify the importance of taking that day of caution.
  • Finance and appraisal is marked in orange or red to signify halting the process to speak and clarify value and adjustments with the loan officer and appraiser.
  • Settlement is in green for money!

4. Even if you have a transaction coordinator or team, you need to make sure you are in contact with everyone involved two or three days prior to each deadline. This means that before each deadline, you are calling and emailing your clients, the title company, the loan officer, the appraiser, your transaction coordinator and anyone else who is involved in the sale.

Believe it or not, your REPC is a legal document. Meeting those deadlines will keep you out of court, keep your clients satisfied and will allow you to work more efficiently with less stress. And the icing on the cake? You will have more contracts that close on time!

Melinda Goodwin is a luxury real estate expert in St. George, Utah.

Email Melinda Goodwin.

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