Archive for June 12th, 2008

In light of this postingon the Inman News Blog, here the few questions a home seller should ask of the prospective agent soliciting their business.

  1. Are you full time? (correct answer: yes)
  2. How long have you been in the business? (hint: you don’t want someone cutting their teeth on you)
  3. How many houses have you sold in the past 12 months?  (the more the better.)
  4. Can you provide me with references? (This can be tricky. Nobody wants their past clients inundated with calls from curious prospects, who can be time vampires. Recent thank-you notes are good)
  5. What will you do to market my house?

This has been said 1 million times and is worth repeating: it is the agent, not the company, that makes a difference in the sale of your home. Large companies have copious numbers of part-time, mediocre and/or fledgling licensees, so there is no guarantee that someone waving a big flag has much ammo. I admit some bias toward independent firms (I own one), but it is well founded, as technology allows us to do as much as the big outfits. The agent is the key. If you are talking to someone who is full time, has a proven track record, happy references and a marketing plan that makes sense, you are reducing your chances of being frustrated and waiting for the listing term to expire.

There are other questions you can ask, but these are the Big 5. I have been told by clients who hired me that they did so because of seemingly insignificant things I said that resonated. A few times I was told that I was hired because I mentioned that I am good at returning phone calls (they couldn’t reach their previous agent). People have chosen me because my marketing plan made sense to them. For example, if you own a farm in Dutchess County and you feel it would be a perfect 2nd home for a Manhattanite, you’ll be more likely to go for me if I am willing to pursue that kind of marketing (I am).  

 A few other points:

  • Never sign a contract longer than 4 or 6 months. Committing to a year is unnecessary and can make you a hostage.
  • Agents who tether their performance to their office, team, or company may be obfuscating their own low numbers or lack of experience. 
  • Print advertising is overrated. People look for homes on the Internet now.
  • Agents who promise a lower commission  rate than others have a low opinion of their services. You get what you pay for (please refer to Foxtons USA). There is a school of thought that says that higher commission can get you sold faster and for more money.

There is certainly more to say, and future posts will do so, but the above points are a good place to begin.

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This is a little inside baseballfor consumers who are unfamiliar with the Multiple Listing Service software that agents use, but my fellow  Westchester – Putnam MLS members will appreciate the humor. We experienced something very similar recently.

Some back story: in the past year, the Powers that Be at my local board switched our MLS software from something I had no complaints with to a company called Rappatoni. The glitches were many, the improvements to functionality were few, and the transition was frustrating. It was like switching from a regular refrigerator to one with an ice maker, except that you had to stand on your head to get the ice.  

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