The real estate landscape has changed dramatically in the last ten years as technology has brought us a tidal wave of new information sources creating a sea of real estate websites offering property valuations, agent ratings, property information searches and more. Buyers and sellers are riveted to these sites and agents know that. As a means to gain exposure and leads agents are clamoring to Google, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and “ Top AGENT” agent referral sites to name a few and paying big dollars to get your business. Some agent referral sites negotiate as much as 30% of an agent’s commission for a listing lead.
Common sense tells you the best agents are not willing to give up 30% of their commission especially after they give the portion due to their brokerage. They could be working at up to half price. How motivated and what kind of marketing dollars is an agent going to spend when they are working at half price? And remember those dollars are coming out of your hard earned equity.
Equally alarming is the “area specialist.” Upon a recent Internet search, I found three agents claiming to be Santa Cruz County area specialists from Burlingame, Gilroy and Fresno, Yes Fresno! So the clear message I am sending you is although there is a lot of good information on the Internet, there is an equal amount of garbage.
Be aware of the gimmicks and do your homework when choosing your representation. Relying on what appears to be a fancy, cutting edge real estate site may be easy, but doing a little old fashioned leg work like visiting open houses where you can see them in action and looking for agents with the most signs in your neighborhood might still be a better way. Here are some critical questions to ask your prospective agents.
- What is your experience level as a Real Estate agent?
- How long have you worked in this particular location?
- How many properties have you sold in my area in the last two years?
- How many homes have you sold in my price range and when.
- How many properties do you currently have listed and where are they?
- Are you a full time agent? Do you have another job?
- How would you market my home and what pricing strategies do you recommend and why?
- Do you use professional photographers and offer video as part of your marketing plan.
- What are your pre-listing recommendations and how will this affect my net bottom line.
- Will you be frank and offer consistent feedback on how your marketing campaign is going and whether changes are required? How often can I expect to hear from you?
- Will you give me a detailed marketing plan with samples of the quality of materials I can expect?
- Will you take the time to diligently assist and guide me in completing thorough disclosure documents and review contracts?
You are selling what is probably your largest asset, taking the time to choose the right agent can mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars and/or even worse a botched transaction that can mean legal issues. The best agents in the business have the experience to know how to foresee pitfalls and avoid them. They also need to know how and when to recommend ancillary professional services such as attorneys, accountants, engineers, inspection services etc. so you get the information you need to make wise real estate decisions.
Best of luck in your search!