The Reality of Real Estate (BlueRoof Blog)

Thoughts, opinions, and truths about real estate and life as I see it...

My Photo
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

I like long walks on the beach holding hands and.... oh, wait- that's a different site.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Good Agent/ Bad Agent

First off, let me say that of all the Realtors in the three states (Utah, Colorado, California)I have been a broker in, only about 5 percent of Realtors are what I would consider to be good agents. And most brokerages and agents put themselves above their clients. Good agents put their clients first.

If you call three agents from the same office of almost any real estate company and ask them to present you with a market analysis and maketing presentation to sell your home you will almost certainly get three completely different marketing plans and three different values for you home. And these are three people in the same office of the same company.


Because each agent decides how much money they want to spend marketing a home based on any number of factors, including how much money that agent has, how much time they want to spend creating marketing, how much they think they will make from the sale of the home, how talented they are marketing, the resources available to them, the culture of their company, the seller's needs and demands, etc.

And if an agent doesn't want to pay $120 for a virtual tour do you think they are going to say to the seller, "I'd rather not pay $120 for a virtual tour, even though it would really help us sell your home, is that okay with you?" Of course not! They'll tell the seller that they don't need a virtual tour or that tours don't sell homes or they just won't bring it up at all. But no matter which of these opptions they choose the seller loses. The seller, their client, is the one who is hurt. And this is from the person they are asking to help protect them.

The agents usually want to "Price it right" which means price it for as low as they can get the seller to price it. So they are actually trying to get the seller down in price, working against their own client, before they even put it on the market.

The lowest priced home in any group of comparable homes will theoretically sell first. But who wants to be the lowest priced home in a group of comparable homes?

I work for a company called Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Salt Lake City, Utah. What makes us so different? If you call three agents form my office and ask for a marketing plan you will get the same marketing plan all three times. Because the agents don't even have a choice of marketing. Everything you can do to market a home is done for the client and paid for by the brokerage.

When we market a home we send a licensed interior designer to go out and spend hours walking through the home with the seller making reccommendations for placing the furniture, painting, de-cluttering, etc. They stage the home so it shows it's very best. Then we send out a professional photographer to take a full virtual tour including panoramic and still shots. We send out color "Just Listed" postcards to the area, place the home, in color, in the largest home buying magazine in the area, we advertise in the two largest newspapers and create full color flyers including inside and outside photos. The for sale signs have a sign rider that give a local phone number that buyers can call to get free recorded information about the home. And we place the home on over ten websites, including the top three national websites and the three largest websites for local real estate. And every agent has a full time personal assistant so the clients always have someone to help them if they can't get a hold of their agent directly at any time during the work day. Buyer can even use our moving trucks for free when they buy a home with one of our agents. And all the agents are full time and very highly trained agents.

We teach our agents to always put the client first. And this includes giving the sellers the very best information on pricing so we can price the home to get the seller as much money as possible, even if it takes us a little longer and costs us a bit more to sell. Because that's what the client wants- as much as they can get.

This helps explain why we sell more homes than the next companies combined in our market and also why agents in my office sell homes for more than $40,000 more than our nearest competitor.

Good agents put their clients first and don't cut corners. Bad agents don't have anything to offer so they market their commissions as being lower to trick people into thinking that will save them money. But saving $2000 in commission after selling your home for $10,000 less than it could have sold for, doesn't save you anything- it costs you $8000. They don't tell you that part of it.

Bad agents market their commissions, good agents market homes.

Bad agents sell homes as quickly as possible, good agents sell homes for as much as possible.

Bad agents tell you what to price your home at, good agents help you determine the highest price possible.

Bad agents are hard to get ahold of, good agents are easy to get ahold of and have an assistant to help.

Bad agents take a listing and then you don't hear from them, good agents are always involved.

Bad agents count on other agents to sell your home, good agents market directly to buyers as well as the MLS.

Bad agents do as little as possible, good agents do as much as possible.

There are major differences between brokerages and agents. It really does matter who you choose...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

How Blogging can Revolutionize Real Estate

The real estate industry has been in a constant state of reluctant change for over thirty years. In the 1970's and 1980's the brokers had all the power. Agents would be told how they would do their business and where to work and even who they could work with. And the public had to go to a broker to get any information and for help selling their homes or finding a home.

In the nineties the power shifted to the agents. Agents started to go from company to company and brokers were allowed to recruit agents so this created a sort of free agency market for Realtors. Brokers would try to woo the good agents to their company by offering incentives and more agent-friendly policies. The public still needed to contact an agent or a broker to get information, so the agents had the power.

Today the power has shifted to the client, where it belongs. Todays home buyer and seller are more knowledgeable and educated in the process than ever before. Some buyers and sellers are more educated than many Realtors because many Realtors simply have not learned their profession well. Many agents make as much money as they can by doing as little actual work as possible. And hopefully those agents will be removed from the marketplace.

The value of a good Realtor today is more facilitatory. They coordinate the home buying or selling process and give area knowledge and expertise to their clients while protecting them and their best interests. The client can get a lot of information, but there is a difference between information and knowledge. A good buyers agent can inform their client of which areas have a better commute time to downtown and which shopping centerhas the freshest produce or what the basic feel of a neighborhood is. They can organize the information and help their client make good decisions.

A good seller's agent can help the seller know the market value of their home and what the highest possible sales price most likely is. They assist their clients with showcasing their home or "staging" it so it can sell for top dollar and they market the home to the broadest possible audience.

And a good agent in either agency relationship will help coordiante inspections, disclosures, appraisals, and all the details- all the way through the settlement and closing.

Blogging can play a unique role in the evolution (not revolution) of the real estate industry. Companies and agents who stay in touch with the public and keep the pulse of their market's needs and wants will undoubtedly be the ones to succeed at the highest possible level.

Blogging is the ultimate form of word of mouth marketing.

Often a company (not only real estate companies) will think they know what their clients need or want but actually be completely wrong. Usually this is because they have not listened to their clients. Many compnies make a habit of telling their clients what they want and trying to position themselves as the expert in areas that do not matter to the client. By utilizing the realm of bolgging a company can discover what their clients actually do need, and more importantly, want. They can listen. They can peek into their clients conversations and have real dialogue with them, resulting in better communication.

Blogging is such a valuable tool for any industry, but especially for one that is client-centric, like real estate. One of the key roles blogging will play in this industry will be it's ability to help weed-out those agents and companies that continue to think that the most important factor in the transaction is the agent. This will allow greater market share for those of us who believe the most important factor is the client.