A buyer client of mine recently commented, “I know listing agents don’t do much.” Normally the one to speak up, I had to hold my tongue and pondered this one. In doing so, I realized that this comment is likely a commonly held view – many people simply do not understand what exactly listing agents do, and why they get paid “so much,” as I have heard others lament. So I thought I would explain what I do as a listing agent, just to put it out there for information-gathering purposes.
It is important to first point out that my client’s comment was partially true – there are some agents who abide by the old rule: get the contract signed, place the property on the MLS with some pictures, and pray (for an offer). I personally know agents who work this way, and some are even successful. There are also agents who work very hard at selling homes – some have systems and plug in their listings to the system (allowing them to take many listings at a time), which works for them.
My philosophy is a bit different from the “big” listing agencies who have numerous listings, and that’s ok, because I am confident in my abilities to help my sellers. I choose to look at each listing as a separate project, needing individualized attention. Every property has different features that need to be highlighted. All in all I believe it is the attention to details that makes a listing, and a listing agent, stand out. So how do I help home sellers? Here are some of the things I think are important:
Complete home evaluation. When I list a property the very first thing I do is walk through the home with the seller. I evaluate every room – is there too much furniture, clutter, is the natural light being hindered in some way? Does the room look appealing with the furniture as is, or do we need to move some pieces around or remove them entirely? Walls should not be inundated with pictures/art, and family photos should be removed. Each home and each evaluation is different, but the goal is to have the home in the best showing shape possible.
Professional photography and virtual tour. Many agents these days take their own photos to save money, and some are quite good at it. But I feel that it is imperative to have a professional photographer do so. Special lenses and lighting really make your home look it’s best. Virtual tours, which these days are left out of many listings, are also important. Over 90% of all IP traffic will be video by 2013, and many people do not want to read a wall of words. They want to see the home, they want to FEEL it. The expense of hiring a professional property photographer (which I pay for) is well worth it, in my opinion.
Broker caravan. A broker caravan, where area brokers and agents are invited to come view the home, is a great way to not only get broker feedback on how the home shows, but also to alert the agents that your home looks great! After the work we do getting it to show it’s best, and the beautiful photos we take, this is the time to show it off to as many area agents as possible. I usually include food as well (either lunch or brunch), to get the agents into the home. I take advice gathered at the broker open house very seriously, sharing it with my sellers.
Open houses. These are also a great way to get feedback on the home, although I leave this entirely up to the seller. I like to have at least one open house, where I invite the entire neighborhood to come visit. People tend to have pride in their neighborhoods, and may know a friend who would like to live there. This is another great way to get feedback, and from those who live close by.
Marketing. Some agents use the same marketing plan for every listing. I don’t. To me, it really depends on the home and it’s features. Whether it is the view, the appealing yard, home office space or proximity to various venues, that is important in marketing. I use a variety of techniques – internet (my main focus), print, video, mailers, personal house websites, flyers, etc. – to get the home seen by as many buyers as possible. The plan is customized according to the property and the desires of the seller, as well as what I think is important in drawing the most buyers to the home.
Price. This is the number one factor in selling a home, and I have blogged about it often. I believe that a home has to be priced well, from the beginning. This is not the time to price a property high and then reduce it later. Today, a home needs to be priced according to comparable solds (of course, adjusting for special features/upgrades, quality and condition). This can be hard for some sellers, as prices have come down in this market due to many factors, including distressed inventory. I feel that the first two weeks are critical. You want to get the buyers IN to see the property – you want them to want to come look. If the home is priced well there is a good chance you will get multiple offers, and in these days of difficulty with qualifying buyers that is the best possible scenario.
No matter who you hire to list your home, make sure you have a plan in place. Understand how your home is being marketed and what you need to do to help get it in the best shape. Don’t be afraid to discuss this with your agent – it is your best interests that are important! Remember – listing a home is not hard, but the level of service from an agent is what can vary immensely. Make sure you are well cared for.