MICHAEL EDLEN, REAL ESTATE CONSULTANT
“We will be listing our home soon and have interviewed four agents. We eliminated one because that agent had little to propose for vigorous marketing, and another one who did not really understand the values on our block. My husband feels we should choose the agent with one or two assistants who has several active listings, because he believes in giving a project that needs doing to the busiest person. I’m inclined towards an agent who has no other listings now and lives quite close to us because this agent has plenty of time to work just for us. What do you think?”
-A long-time homeowner
It seems both you and your husband feel either of these agents can provide “vigorous marketing” and “understand the values” well. If so, what differences in benefits to you would each of their marketing provide? Has each given you a detailed plan of action that includes all of the marketing commitments you would receive? Have they provided examples of print media ads that they would use? Did each one show you how your home would be highlighted on various sites? Do they both provide supplemental exposure through extra photos, brochure boxes, direct mailings and photo ads?
What is the “track record” of the agent who has so much time available? Has this agent successfully represented several sellers in the last year and just happens to have no listings right now, or has the agent had very little experience promoting and servicing listings? How many contracts has the agent negotiated and how many escrows has he or she managed and closed in the last 6 months? It would obviously be better for you if the agent has had at least several transactions, because there are many other elements that could be equally as important to the success of your sale as the knowledge of values and extent of marketing activity.
For example, an experienced negotiator may save you tens of thousands of dollars before a contract is finalized. Moreover, the sale contract will require correctly executing numerous property disclosures, providing 10 or more reports, coordinating several retrofitting requirements, obtaining verifications of funds, performing at least two inspections, and numerous other details that will arise during the escrow process. There are also many possible moments where emotional “hand-holding” is required to keep a transaction from falling apart, and often the agent with the experience of handling many such situations will be able to keep it together.
What about the other agent’s “track record”? Are most of the listings located close to this agent’s office, or does this agent try to cover too wide a geographic area? How many listings has this agent actually sold in the last year? How many listings did he or she not sell? How many are in escrow now? What support team is in place to assure high-quality service? What level of expertise and experience does each team member have which supports the detailed processes of marketing and escrow? Would a single agent who does not employ assistants be able to provide the same level of support? I am a very busy agent and could not have successfully managed the highest number of transactions for many years in our community without a well-organized and professional team.
The answers to these types of questions will help you decide between the two agents. While past performance is no guarantee of future success, it may be the most reliable indicator to use in selecting an agent.
If your decision remains unresolved, consider a few advantages the busier agent may have just by being more active. This agent is continually coming into contact with buyers and is always networking with past clients and other active real estate agents, and can suggest other homes he or she has listed. If a property showing does not meet a buyer’s specific needs, the agent can suggest other listings he or she has available. Also, that agent will most likely be more familiar with the purchase contract terms and nuances, and will have greater resources in-house to use for added client services. In addition, the agent will have added exposure for listings in more ads and Internet sites.
Ironically, a busy agent may be the best agent simply because he or she is apt to be more organized, have developed efficient office systems for handling all of the details now required to sell homes effectively, and thus is really not too busy to do what he or she does so skillfully in negotiating and selling homes and being available to respond to the needs of the client.
Michael Edlen provides counseling services to prospective buyers and sellers and helps over 40 clients each year to move.
His website contains many informative articles, at MichaelEdlen.com. He can be reached at 310.230.7373 or Michael@michaeledlen.com.