Friday, August 31, 2012

Hiring a Real Estate Agent in 2012 - Part 1

It’s hard to say which has changed the world of real estate more—the state of the economy, or the Internet revolution. With more power and knowledge going to the buyer than ever, the old rules no longer apply. Before you hire a real estate agent in this new climate, here are some things you need to know.

Number one: just because your cousin, friend or cousin’s friend just got her real estate license and joined a firm does not mean they know what they are doing.  Unfortunately, real estate school is about learning to pass a government exam, which includes a puzzling section on ethics. If I need to study up so that I can prove that I don’t discriminate based on race, sex or handicap, then I sure as heck shouldn’t be trusted with anyone’s home!
This is all to say that real estate courses teach you nothing about solid deals and good business, which are what really matters in real estate. An agent fresh out of school is like a hairdresser who has just learned all about the history of hairdos.  And here’s something to think about—your hairdresser has almost certainly spent much longer in professional training than your real estate agent. 
Number two: the amount of listings your real estate agent has doesn’t matter. Anyone can list a house—the real issue is selling it.
I have a friend who has over 40 listings. She must be a top producer, right? Wrong. I run with her a few days a week and every time, as we’re running, she gets calls from angry sellers who feel neglected. She signs the listing up, then the seller never sees her again. You want someone who will care about getting your house sold, not getting listed on the firm website as part of the Top Producer Club.

Number three: more time on the market will get you less money. If your agent asks for a 12 month listing, run!
I’ve seen my fair share of real estate firms teach their agents to take listings at a high price and walk the client down later, once they’re locked in. So don’t let an agent’s high number give you an unrealistic idea about value. Even if they list your house at an incredibly high price, they’ll often accept a low offer for you and tell you it’s the smartest move you could make. It’s fun to dream sometimes, but this market is not the time for dreaming. If your house is overpriced, all you're doing is helping your neighbors sell their more realistically priced home.