I’m looking at the front-page ad that just came out today with my headshot and my tagline: ‘Marketing Plans with Measurable Results.’ It got me thinking about what buyers and sellers should look for in their agents and what type of ‘results’ can be observed and quantified.
Any agent boasting a high volume may be able to point to a large number of listings, but in some cases, if you dig a little deeper, you may find an agent who collects listings, but the percentage of those sold, especially in the first week when the seller is likely to receive a high price, is low. Look for an agent who SELLS listings, not for one who collects them. Take a look at how long their recent listings have been on the market and whether they have sold. Contact a couple of the sellers to see if they are satisfied with the level of activity and marketing methods.
One method of measuring the effectiveness of an agent’s marketing methods is to attend the agents’ first broker open and first public open house. Is the listing agent there, or is it a fill-in from their team, their company, or worse, a family member who knows absolutely nothing about the house?
Is the ambience at the open house one that is warm, welcoming and informative for those who seem interested in the home? Is the open well attended? Are the furniture groupings inviting, is there subtle music, a comfortable temperature and refreshments that invite potential buyers to linger? There is nothing worse than a cold, unfurnished, dark home with an agent sitting on a folding chair who pounces with an air of desperation. There’s a local team who routinely has one member at the door as the ‘greeter’, but it feels more like a bouncer. Even as an agent, the vibe is off-putting.
Do you see high quality glossy folded brochures at the home, or is it a print-out from the MLS that is the only take-away for interested buyers, or worse, nothing at all? Are the photos on line and in the brochure inviting and attractive? Is there a property website that features the home, perhaps with a montage with video snippets on the home page?
Has the agent spent the time necessary for having a complete disclosure packet available for interested buyers? This will keep the momentum of the first week going as several packets should go out and hopefully prompt at least one buyer to step up in order to secure the property.
Is the timeline for putting your home on the market designed for the highest visibility of your home in the first week or is it for the convenience of the listing agent?
Cut-rate listing agents may not be available to show the home to buyers without agents, may not be jumping on opportunities for higher visibility, and may project a low-class image of the property through their photos and marketing materials. Missing out on just one extra buyer could mean a difference of several hundred thousand dollars in high-priced Bay Area markets.
In my experience, a great majority of the time an agent who ‘double ends’, representing both the buyer and the seller, in reality is more motivated to protect their big payday of double the commission. I do not double-end as I find I cannot in good conscience claim to be representing two sides of a negotiation and transaction.
It continues to amaze me that so many agents send their buyers to homes that they themselves have not had the time or made an effort to view. This happens quite a lot in wine country, as Bay Area agents do not want to give up their commission by referring their clients out to others who are more knowledgeable and active in different markets. What this means for a buyer is they find themselves looking at homes and neighborhoods that are totally inappropriate for their needs. It’s important to make sure your agent is knowledgeable about off market listings, regulations, recommended inspections, prices, and the pros and cons of various homes and neighborhoods. Frankly, just knowing the listing agent will help a motivated buyer win in a multiple offer situation.
Who are the best inspectors in town? What contractor will come over and offer a casual estimate of repairs? What are the traffic patterns and weather in different areas? Are there any ongoing issues in the neighborhood? This is just a fraction of the kind of information an informed agent will provide.
With my residency in Marin of 25 years, and Sonoma Valley for 5, I am covering these markets intensely through networking meetings and weekly touring. My testimonials at JulieLeitzell.com refer to a couple of examples of my buyers who benefitted from a head-start on their dream home, resulting in a ratified contract even in multiple offer situations.