Client-Centered Representation – Not the Norm

A phone call came in from an agent in another area who had started a networking organization made up of one agent in each area who is known for what he called ‘client-centric representation.’   After a long conversation comparing notes on the market and discussing our approaches to real estate, I was invited to join the group.   It got me thinking about the differences between what some of us call ‘showboats’ and an agent who advocates for clients.  It’s amazing to me that agents, who may make the difference of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, are chosen without much research.  Here are a few thoughts.

On the listing side, when I am tasked to find an agent in another area for one of my clients, I look on line and make calls to ascertain the following data points:

  • Spending top dollar on the kind of photography that attracts on-line views and brings in a high number of in-person viewings
  • Realistic pricing advice that results in the best price and outcome for the sellers
  • If the listing is becoming stale, lingering on MLS for months, the agent is proactively freshening up the look of the listing on-line
  • Creative on-line ads (photo here is a video that played on the home page of SFGate Real Estate page), social media, and even print advertising that sets a high quality image
  • A reputation for responsiveness to agents booking viewing appointments, having disclosure packets that are complete enough to answer questions, rather than raise red flags
  • A low percentage of selling listings to their own buyers.   ‘Steering’ listings in order to double your own commission while making it difficult for other agents to show, unfortunately is something that really does take place.
  • Quantity of listings does not translate to quality of service.  ‘Top’ agents may be signing so many similar listings your beloved home is just a spoke in their wheel of not-so-fortunate listings

For buyers, here is what I consider a client-centric buyer’s agent:

  • Not too busy to preview listings that may be a good fit – even in the time of COVID
  • The ability to communicate pros and cons on new listings in terms of location, noise, traffic, schools, weather, fire danger, neighborhood style
  • Offering honest information on what investigations would normally be done given the property in question, i.e. well or septic, regulations that affect expansion or remodeling plans, vacation rental restrictions etc.
  • Has the time to put together a complete, well-crafted offer package that gives sellers and their agent confidence in a buyer’s familiarity with the market, interest in the home and ability to close.
  • Has a reputation as well-liked agent:   thorough, professional, organized, and not known for unnecessary drama.  Personality matters in getting your offer accepted!