It's just sad...we're a hair above used car salesman. The worst thing about it is that by in large--I know the reputation has been earned.
It's probably always the case that the stinkers are always the ones you hear about--the agents that do it right, that work hard--that really do put your interests ahead of their own, they're boring no one wants to hear about them, but they are out there.
If you are in the market for an agent here's a list of things that will help you weed out the good from the not so good.
Full Time Agent
- Given how tough the market is a lot of agents are not working full time as real estate agents. If you are the person responsible for putting food on the table and making ends meet you gotta' do what you gotta' do; but if you're hiring someone to sell your house you need someone whose head is in the game full time; who can return calls in a timely manner and who can respond as needed. Real Estate is a demand driven business--and mostly it's someone else's demands.
- While real estate is still a relational business if your agent can't expose your property in a sophisticated technological way, keep looking. Your agent should have a strong web presence in the market that they serve. It should be easy to find your agent online and it should be even easier to find your agent's listings.
- Competitive pressure should create a higher level of service. We all have to do everything we can to stand out from the crowd. Your agent should be an expert in their market; they should help make your home the very best, most appealing product it can be. That includes
- Helping you price it right
- Recommending improvements
- Offering staging
- Producing beautiful print and digital materials
- Exposing the property to the broadest possible market and to the appropriate "move up" market, and pretty much anything else that it takes to get the house soldIf they only offer you a discount in commission--well I guess that's all they have to offer and that's something your should think about.
- Obviously your agent should be honest but more importantly you and your agent need to have a relationship that is based on the ability to have an open honest exchange of ideas and information--even when the information being relayed doesn't make you happy. If you have your agent walking on eggshells then you're not going to get the best from your agent. If you feel like you can't trust them then don't hire them.
It's always surprising to me to see an intensely negative attitude applied to a whole profession--Real Estate is like everything else--if you're not satisfied with the service you vote with your feet. Find an agent that merits your business--and be willing to pay for the service.
I suspect that a big part of the horror story scenarios are in part a function of people seeking the bargain before they understand the level of service that's needed to effectively get the job done...and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Send me your experiences!