Active Rain June 23, 2011

Real Estate Dead Ends

Straight talk for home sellers who really want to sell. 

One of the misconceptions among consumers about real estate is that when they hire an agent to sell their home that the agent isn’t doing their job unless they are in “motion.” Most people can’t relate to the idea that we are paid for something that is somewhat intangible, and that the tools for our trade reside in a different realm than the conventional image of work, effort or labor. In a very real way, like a doctor, lawyer, teacher or architect, we get paid for what we know more than what we do. 

This isn’t to say that agents make money by lounging around, playing golf, and surfing on Facebook all day once they load the house onto the MLS. Far from it. We still have to execute, but getting your home sold will be hindered if we spend our time pacifying an uneducated taskmaster. Here are some dead ends that sellers often insist on their agents driving into that should be understood and avoided.

  • Chasing feedback. Virtually worthless. What a buyer will tell you about your home that you don’t already know after years in the place is beyond me. You didn’t know that you lived on a busy street or backed up to high tension wires? On rare occasions a buyer agent will shed insight on something, but you know what? Those agents will tell the listing broker agent right away! Buyer agents don’t want to disclose their client’s thoughts any more than your agent does yours, and buyers’ reasons for buying are intensely personal- It didn’t feel like home. That shouldn’t be an epiphany. Having yor agent de-brief showing agents or attempting to overcome their objections is time management suicide. No one has ever bought a house because their buyer agent lost an argument with the listing agent. 
  • Open House centered marketing. In some markets such as Manhattan, this is actually a good idea. Westchester County isn’t Manhattan. Sellers don’t understand the futility of open houses, but they at least see their agent spending money on ads and sitting in their living room “working on it.” They don’t understand how buyers buy in 2011. But you will give your neighbors lots of opportunities to see how you live. Open houses should be used like perfume- sparingly, or overuse will repel. 
  • Print advertising. Again, this is where the seller sees the agent writing a check and doing something. Westchester home buyers are pretty connected and sophisticated. They aren’t looking through the home magazines or newspaper, they are online where they can see pictures and get instant answers. The theory on print is that someone who who wasn’t looking will stumble upon your house and fall in love. That’s now how people buy real estate. It’s how we meet our spouses. And my wife has way better gams than your living room. Trust me. 
  • Honorable mention: Spam emailing other agents about your listing, calling other agents cold to “get the word out,” and other forms of un-targeted, time intensive, low-return throw-mud-on-the-wall efforts. 
So what should an agent be “doing” exactly? Familiarize yourself with these terms: Listing syndication, social media, blogging, YouTube, IDX, virtual office websites (VOWs), and single property websites. Agents who are proficient in these realms are getting things done in 2011. My listings are ubiquitous. Just Google an address I have listed and it goes on for pages. Anywhere real buyers are looking, they’ll find my listings with proof-read, compelling descriptions, lots of photos, and easy means of contacting me. My sellers have access to MLS data, not just active listings, but SOLD and PENDING, 24/7 on a client-specific, password protected platform. They know what the competition is doing. In short, our tool box, and the resources we give our clients, have changed even in the past 18 months. These tools are game changers, and that is where the focus should be.