The Real Estate Rolodex


Whether you’re selling your home or looking to buy one, you’ll likely need to enlist a small village in the process of making sure the house and property are suitable. On your own, there are obvious sources with whom you’ll need to be familiar—inspectors and contractors, for example—but what about reliable repairers? Radon testers? Licensed mold assessors? A local real estate agent probably “has a guy” for that. Realtors in the area say that constant continuing education about required testing and paperwork, knowledge of the area and a contact list that includes every source right down to the excavator make it simpler and more affordable to enlist their help.  Here are some of the unexpected team members you might meet in your real estate journey.

A local lawyer

“Surprisingly, most people say, ‘Oh, I need to hire an attorney?’ Yes, you need an attorney,” said local real estate agent Dawn Curreri—emphasis on the word local. Deborah Gorenflo, co-director of the Sullivan County Board of Realtors and licensed real estate salesperson, agreed. “Over 75 percent of our buyers are second-home buyers and they’re coming from Brooklyn, Long Island [or] New Jersey, and they want to use their attorney from there,” she said. “That is not a good idea. The local attorneys that are here deal with our local issues every day. So a local attorney is at the very top of my referral list.”

A home inspector

Of course you know your home needs to be inspected to enter the market. If you’re buying, surely you want a house that’s been checked. How do you know whom to trust? Real estate agents know meticulous and fair inspectors in the area. Importantly, Gorenflo said, they also suggest someone who’s relatively calm. “The last thing you need is a first-time homebuyer [and] the home inspector is saying ‘Oh my God, this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen,’” Gorenflo said. “You need a home inspector who knows what they’re doing and is looking for safety and code violations primarily.”

Licensed mold assessors & water engineers

In rural areas like Sullivan, Wayne and Pike counties, cottages and farmhouses are often left unattended for weeks or months at a time. It’s not uncommon for spores to grow in basements or bacteria to infect water wells. A team of people may be involved in assessing, fixing and re-checking wells for bacteria or mold growth. If you’re buying land, you probably want to do a percolation test to see how the ground absorbs water and what condition the septic system is in. In that case, Curreri said, you’ll need an engineer. “If the water tests bad… it’s an easy fix, but you need a plumber for that,” she added, attaching another name to the ever-growing list of people involved in home buying and selling.

Repair people, plumbers and electricians

This one’s pretty self explanatory, but still requires a well-connected resource. There’s nothing worse than being overcharged for something as simple as a leaky sink.

Local banks

Home buyers, especially first-timers and locals, often need to take out loans. Banks and lenders offer varying rates to varying clients. Real estate agents learn constantly from local banks about what they’re offering, new services and affordability options.


Curreri recalled recent clients who were interested in buying a piece of land on which they could hunt. In this case, it was important for the buyers to have a surveyor see where their property ended and the next began.  If you’re interested in buying or selling a large piece of land, you’ll need to learn its exact boundaries through the help of a reliable surveyor.

Marketing and ad specialists

A local real estate agent knows how much traffic the local paper drives in, compared to real estate sites like Zillow. If you want more eyes on the property you’re selling, Gorenflo said, get advice from your agent about where to post the photos, how to construct selling points in listings and take pictures of marketable quality.

The list goes on: phone and utility services, tax and state officials, appraisers, hard and software suppliers—making all of these connections on your own could be a wallet-draining nightmare. Real estate agents can be your guide through the chaos, with a list of contacts on hand to ease the stress. “People think it’s very easy to sell real estate. You show a couple of houses and you make thousands of dollars,” Curreri said. “That’s not true.” She never gives clients just one name or option, but a list of attorneys, surveyors and other trained personnel whom she knows to be reliable. After that, the choice is yours.


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