Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Myths of Real Estate: "Always talk to the listing agent directly"

Welcome to my new topic blog, Industry Insider/Myths of Real Estate! As someone who's a little newer to the business, I remember my confusion and misunderstandings about the real estate industry, and believe it's part of my job to shed some light on the cogs and wheels at work behind the scenes when you hire a Realtor.

Myth I: Talk to the listing agent directly!

  • Myth substance: "When shopping for a property, you should always communicate with the listing agent directly for information on any property of interest."
  • Myth origination: Heard from homebuyers who were brokers themselves years ago, other "in the know" shoppers, non-committed Internet window shoppers.
  • Myth rationale: "The listing agent is the most knowledgeable source of information for her listing."
So... sounds good, right? What's the problem?

Myth demystified - why using a buyer broker is the best way to go!

The listing agent knows the most!

  • In fact... We share our information with the entire local MLS membership, including "agent-only" remarks that are never seen by the public, and often used to communicate critical material facts that other brokers should know. We also upload related documents into our listings for our cooperating brokers to access... and we cooperate! Most of us tour and preview new listings, share details about our listings with our colleagues, and always expect to take calls from our fellow brokers to provide more detailed information about a given property. A competent buyer broker will not only access all available information, but will also have the professional skill and experience to interpret what we learn to make sure all risks and benefits are clear to you, the homebuyer.
  • In fact... We count on our membership to be competent and professional... but not every single real estate agent is! Some listings are represented by people who may not know fully what they're doing, and may not have discovered all relevant information about their listing. Also, bank-owned listings or trust-held listings may include very little information from the seller even if the broker is very competent. A trusted, competent buyer broker will help bridge this gap and ensure due diligence is carried out in such circumstances.

"I'm not really ready to buy, and I don't want to waste your time - I just look on line and call on properties I'm curious about."

  • In fact... Buyer brokers worth their salt work with customers at all stages, including "not even sure we're going to buy", and have services tailored to these variable needs and motivations, so that their time is not wasted, and yet they are able to make sure that all customers receive the best information and always have a trusted person to call with a question.
  • In fact... Although the Internet gives buyers more informational power than ever... these Web sites are not as accurate as the data that comes directly from a local MLS database system. Connecting with a buyer broker early on - even two years before you want to move! - allows you to receive automated notifications for listings that fit your interests and budget. Setting up such a search takes one consultative meeting or phone call with your broker, and just a few minutes of the agent's time to plug in and get rolling - no time wasted. Ready to see some houses? We regularly and happily organize showings for our buyers - the benefit of a non-committal buyer is that the time frame is not so urgent as with someone needing to move NOW - we can easily schedule in time to show you homes here and there, and learn along the way what you truly like and dislike! Showings are ultimately valuable consultative time.
  • In fact... Half of our job is education, and a good Realtor should not only not mind, but in fact expect to be providing information to the public, and answering questions, regularly - without expectation of a sale. Not every customer buys or sells, in the end, anyway - stuff happens! My expectation is to serve your specific needs - and then be the professional of choice when you decide to buy or sell, no matter when that happens - or if.
  • And finally... When buyers call me directly about a listing, I will 1) aim to sell them the home they are asking about, and 2) aim to gain them as a buyer client if my listing is not the home for them... Do you really want to hear this pitch every time you call a new broker to check out his or her listing?
I hope this has been a little bit enlightening, and as ever - feel free to reach out with your comments or questions, or of course, if you want to buy, sell or invest in real estate!