Joe Smith knows first-hand the importance of clear communication. As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult), Joe was in a unique position. American Sign Language was his first language since both his parents are Deaf. What he didn’t know then was how that experience would transfer to his career as a Realtor®.
Access & Communication
As a sign language interpreter of 15 years, Joe’s services were often requested at real estate closings. During those meetings, he realized the glaring need for Deaf clients to have access to an interpreter earlier in the home-buying process. Because of lack of communication access, customers were making decisions with a tunneled awareness of the full picture. “Agents never had anything to do with the Deaf community and, therefore, didn’t know what their clients needed in terms of communication access.” Frustrated by the lack of information provided to Deaf clients due to communication barriers, Joe became determined to fill the gap. “Having someone there to empower and advise you along the real estate path can be invaluable.”
Joe is quick to point out that it’s not a matter of intellect or ability. Rather, “It’s all about access and communication. Regardless of a person’s abilities, if deprived of access and communication, they can’t make the best decision. It’s like saying, ‘I’m only going to give you half the information.’ That’s just not right. Writing everything on paper complicates the process regardless of hearing status, and without an interpreter, everything must be written down. Therefore, a 5-minute conversation becomes a much longer process. My goal is to make sure they have the access to an interpreter and communication they deserve to make the most informed decision.”
Passion for Real Estate
With the realization that he could be part of the solution to the problem, Joe decided to follow his lifelong passion for real estate—a passion inherited from his father. He became a licensed Realtor with the Matt Wyble Team of Champion Realty, Inc. Joe’s ability to clearly communicate is beneficial to all of his clients, hearing and Deaf alike. “I provide high-level customer service, and simply, this is accomplished by two things: (1) Understanding the value of good communication and providing it, and (2) Having the knowledge to best serve my clients’ needs.”
While Joe is happy to work with customers in any part of Maryland, he raves about his hometown of Severna Park in Anne Arundel County. “I know a lot of the pockets that are gems. There’s such a strong sense of community here. I have clients who move in, and within days, neighbors are bringing cookies. It’s a great place to come raise children and has a good educational system.”
Although Joe is licensed in Maryland, his desire is for Deaf clients who are relocating to other states to also be linked with real estate agents who know sign language. To do that, he started a Facebook group, which currently has 30 members. His goal is to have at least one agent who knows sign language representing each state in the US. Then, he can refer to agents elsewhere who will be able to communicate with them in their native language.
Champion’s Uncommon Approach
Joe is thrilled to be a part of the Matt Wyble Team (TMWT) of Champion Realty. In this team of 14 agents, everybody has a different niche, or area of expertise, creating a strong network of real estate professionals who serve as resources for one another. “All of us have different clients, so when something comes up that we’re not well-versed in, we’re able to refer them to inside agents we know and trust, or we can go to that person and get information to provide to our clients. I love that structure.”
Aside from this successful teamwork approach, other features provided by The Matt Wyble Team bring value to customers, as well:
(1) Matterport Technology – The internet has changed the real estate industry in dramatic ways. At no additional cost to clients, TMWT’s in-house photographer, Erin Fiddler, captures 3D photographs of homes for use with cutting edge virtual reality technology. “Matterport basically allows buyers to walk the property virtually.” This ultimately attracts more buyers. People who are unable to physically walk through a property are able to “get the immersive feel of being there and can truly see it from every angle.”
(2) Staging – Another benefit of working with TMWT is that the team provides staging services for every client selling a home. Their stager, Anita Seeman, has 20 years of interior design experience. She goes to each home and advises sellers on what they can do to maximize the home’s potential for sale. Strategies, such as rearranging furniture, decluttering an area, or removing personal photographs, go a long way in helping to sell quickly. “Staging is Anita’s world. She’s done it for over 20 years. She comes in and sees what the homeowner has and makes it work. That’s a huge skill.”
Joe has advice for both homebuyers and sellers, alike. “Don’t get overwhelmed. It’s easy to do. I want my clients to understand that I have their best interests at heart. I value their time. I value their specific situation. I want them to be able to trust and know that my pure goal is to make sure their goals are achieved.” He recognizes that the process can be daunting. To alleviate some of the anxiety, Joe walks customers through the steps of the process. Again…access to information and clear communication. “Part of our process is to provide customers with a checklist so they can literally follow along as we’re going. We’ve already mapped it out for them. It’s all about the client. If they feel like we’re here for them and their best intentions, then we’ve done our job.”
Free Time: Faith, Family, Fun
Doing his job well doesn’t leave a lot of free time, but for Joe, family is important. He and his wife have two young children, ages 5 and 3, and a new addition due in July. Aside from spending time with them and coaching his children in soccer, Joe enjoys golf and skeet shooting on occasion. Faith is important, as well, and he and his family are involved in a local church.
Whether you’re looking to purchase or sell a home, if you’re looking for a knowledgeable Realtor who will clearly communicate with you every step of the way, contact Joe today at 410-991-9414 or JoeSmith@championrealty.com.
Written by Dawn Wooden