Wow, do I feel for you! It is REALLY hard to find a good Listing Agent/Realtor… anywhere (not just Virginia).
How do I know? Because I’m going through it right now! I’m helping my brother pick a Realtor to sell his house in Texas (yep not doing FSBO since I want him to net more).
Overcoming his hesitations are EXACTLY like customers here. It is HARD to cut through the BS. Here are some typical questions he had and my answers. (He was amazed that I had a blog post for everything. Also I apologize for jumping around.)
1) I taught him to not fall for the oldest trick in the Realtor book… the Buying a Listing Trick (recommend a high price to win the listing, just to drop later, which nets the client even less). He got that, so he warned the agents he was talking to that he wanted real pricing and he would NOT pick based on the highest price.
2) When he mentioned staging, one Realtor’s reply was “Sure we can do that, or we can list, wait two weeks and then stage it. That might save you some money.“
What! Boy did this tick me off. Made me want to pull my hair out and look like I did before my hair drug medicine (see actual photo of me).
Any good marketer knows that you have one chance to make a great impression. You want all marketing efforts to peak at the same time (even down to the exact best day to list, which I think is Thursday). 80% of your visitors will see your vacant stale house? No way. “Run from that Realtor!”
But doesn’t it sound so good? “to save you some money.” Everyone wants to save money!! Even though that might “cost” you tens of thousands. Here is a video on staging costs (specifically granite) and calculating your return on investment (staging ROI)
3) Realtor and Stager in one? Some might be offended by this, and go ahead and call me a “Brainist.” I don’t think those with a degree in design can do staging full time AND be a full time Realtor. They are completely separate parts of the brain. (I messed up here, I initially had him talk to a combo stager/Realtor, but he got the sense that the combo‘er, not to be confused with a comb-over, was not a numbers person. The combo’er said, “my Realtor friend Sally thinks we should price it at XYZ.” That isn’t what a seller wants to hear.)
Also it is hard to find a good stager/redesigner. Some even lie! And you know I’ll call them out on it. See: Stager Caught Lying About “17 day avg” Results!
4) Find a great stager 1st and you will find a great Realtor. (kinda sounds epic?)
(shameless plug… earmuffs… If you are looking for a listing agent in Northern Virginia, MD, DC, then you can skip this step since you already found us… end shameless plug.)
Whenever I jump into an abyss (non DC area) to help a college friend, or a relative find a Realtor… I first find a great stager (I use ActiveRain). I ask the stager “Who uses you frequently and always uses super wide angle photos?” Man of man this eliminates 97-99% of the Realtors and leaves me with some great options. I’m sorry, while it won’t guarantee anything, if I find a Realtor that requires all of their listings be staged, I am 99% confident they will not be a Sucky Listing Agent. Ask Dave and Bill, they were thrill when their houses sold in a down market for over what they were expecting.
5) Another Realtor wanted to hurry and list the property in 48 hours.
I told my bro, no fear… I have a blog post for that too. THROW-UP listings. Do it “RIGHT,” Not “RIGHT NOW!” I consider this to be a trick. Some Realtors go to some brain-washing Realtor training programs (you know who you are) and they push: #1 GET THE LISTING SIGNED. And “How many listings did you sign up this week, did you make quota.” They don’t really care about getting their client top dollar. They just wanna crank through a mass quantity of deals. Fast, Fast Fast. Sorry, it takes time to do it
right, and doing it right, nets the seller MORE!
6) Another hesitation from my brother: “But I want the Realtor that sells everything in the neighborhood.” While there can be some benefits, I know some VERY sucky agents that do a crapload of business.
Here is their secret… They spend $100,000 (yes 5 zeros) sending out postcards endlessly. The postcards look like they are trying to sell somebody’s home. But the inside scoop (which you only get on this blog, so make sure to sign up) is they are NOT marketing the home at all (postcards don’t sell homes, especially “sold cards”). They are MARKETING THEMSELVES NOT THE PROPERTY!
They spend a boat load of $ to get you to call them. That in NO WAY correlates with them being any good at getting you the highest net.
Why don’t I get into that business? If the $100k pays for itself, why not? Because it disgusts me. I’ll just blog and save a forest. I love flipping through those 4-color magazines in grocery stores. With full page ads “selling” homes. That does NOT sell homes, that sells the Realtor and lets them say “look I will put you in this glossy magazine” that no buyers look at. They instead use the interweb.
7) Don’t fall for the guy that uses in his pitch “Google XYZ area and look, I’m #1.” Like above, that just means they know how to do Search Engine Optimization by hiring a firm in India to write mini articles to get their ranking up. Search engines do NOT sell your home, but it might get you to contact that Realtor. Sure sounds powerful doesn’t it? If he can market himself, he can market my home. Yes logical. But no, it is not correlated.
As part of that Realtors’ (NOT MINE) “10 questions to ask a Listing agent”
“How many Buyers are you working with currently? Everybody knows the more buyers your listing agent is working with, the better your chances of selling your property quickly. It will also
affect price because a listing agent with many buyers can establish an auction-like atmosphere where many buyers all bid on your home at the same time.”
8) I got this from a blog reader today, “Jake” thought I’d like to highlight the BS. This came from a Realtor he was getting a newsletter from (he betrayed me I guess):
Are you kidding me? See pulling out hair photo above. This is such BS. And if it isn’t, make sure you are not hiring that agent as a buyer agent, because she just admitted she is going to screw you if you buy her listing. (Meanwhile I tell buyers NOT to buy my listings)
9) Not all Real Estate bloggers are good Realtors. (and vice versa). Ha, this is worthy of another full post.
I had a prospective buyer (from my blog) call me and say he was hesitant because he used a New York Realtor that was a well-read blogger, but they ultimately didn’t think he was any good.
On the flip side, I had a buyer that wanted a recommendation for a Realtor in another town. I gave her a great Realtor’s name. But the seller didn’t want to use that Realtor… because she didn’t have a blog. Too funny. I have been bugging her to start one, but she says she isn’t a witty writer. Also she gets tons of referral from satisfied prior clients and is happy with her deal flow. Kudos to her!
Morale: not all Realtor bloggers suck, and not all non-blogger Realtors don’t suck. (got that?)
So the bottom line is I feel for you. It is tough. So much trash to weed through. All I can say is if you read this far into the blog post, you are doing your homework and I commend you. Class 2 is for you to read the rest of my Listing Agent Advice posts. ;-)
Wish me luck with my brother, and a blogger loves his commenters, even if you say “hi, thanks.”
Sign up for more progress reports on my brother’s listing.
Please report typos.
Brain photo by Gaetan Lee