I have written about this subject before, but I wrote about it during the VERY lean years, when a listing was almost guaranteed to sit on the market for 180 plus days, and switching real estate agents was like changing a pair of shoes. At that point I MUCH preferred to be the second (or third) listing agent. (A wise man once told me, “It’s best to be the first born, the second spouse, and the third real estate agent.”) Sellers had to marinate a bit. They needed the strangers to tromp through the house, and then not call or give vague reasons why they weren’t interested. They needed to feel the frustration of weeks without a showing, or a last minute showing cancellation. But most of all they needed the expectation of what a real estate broker does to change.
Whenever I have a conversation with a seller who’s listing has recently expired, invariably they will have a complaint about the agent. I have heard them all. Communication is a big one. Sellers just want to know that you can be reached when they want to talk. They want to know that their house, despite the fact that it is sitting stale on the market is still your number one priority, and you are beating the bushes and shouting from the rooftops for a buyer. Like any other relationship, they want to feel important and listened to. Feeling like they are not kept in the loop is a major complaint that I hear over and over.
However the number one complaint I hear is simply, “They did not sell my house.”
And then the obvious response is. “And why do you think they did not sell it.?”
The response to this question varies a bit depending on the level of frustration and knowledge in how the real estate sale business works, but again the basics of the response is, “They did not advertise it enough. They did not get it in front of the right buyer.”
So at this point the opportunity is there to differentiate oneself from the other brokers, and explain how you can do more to sell the property. And that is where it get a bit difficult.
I recently had a prospective lister refer to the real estate industry as a mafia. He did not say it with malice, he was simply saying that with the MLS, agents sort of stick together, and work together, and For Sale by Owners, and someone who would rather keep an open listing are really left out in the cold. And the price to join the club is six percent.
Now NAR is VERY sensitive about anti-trust, and there are measures in place so there is competition and fair trade. Any sort of rumor of commission rate collusion is met with abject terror and abhorrence because of the possible consequences. However I can see where someone would feel that way. Especially in a smaller community like Sullivan County, a listing is taken, the commission rate is generally somewhere between four to eight percent, it is put on the Sullivan County Multiple Listing Service. It is put on the company web site, filtered out to a bunch of real estate web sites, and then the agent waits for a bite.
So really switching brokers does not do all that much. Most agents pretty much do the same thing–at least the same thing in marketing a property. Now negotiating, picking through the mind field of inspections and appraisals and bank difficulties, and the other myriad of potential problems once a deal is struck is a completely different story. However from a pure marketing standpoint. At first glance switching brokers really does not do that much.
But there are some things that can be done differently to market a property that some local agents do not do. First and foremost I am a member of two multiple listing services. Sullivan County MLS and the Greater Hudson Valley MLS.
The Greater Hudson Valley MLS caters more to the Orange and Rockland areas of the state. It has quite a bit more members, and its listing syndication is picked up by more real estate websites than the Sullivan County MLS. For example. RE/MAX.com is the fifth most searched real estate website in the country. It does not return any search results from homes only listed in the Sullivan County MLS. I feel that it is EXTREMELY important that if you are selling a home in Sullivan County that it be listed on the Greater Hudson Valley MLS. It greatly enhances your chances of selling your house.
The other advantage I feel I have is working for a large company like Keller Williams It immediately gives me (and my inventory) an advantage. There are close to one hundred agents in my office. Now true, most are down state Orange and Rockland (and some Ulster) agents, however, that sphere of influence is huge. More than half of my business in 2012 was colleague referrals. Keller Williams just opened a huge office on Park Ave. Guess where all those buyers who looking for upstate getaways are being sent?
Six of the properties I listed and sold this year were previously listed with other agents. Now there were price drops, and other changes made to some of these listings to make them more attractive to buyers, however a few sold simply because they were marketed aggressively and correctly. Selling real estate is not rocket science. Sometimes it is just the guy who has climbed the highest tree and is yelling the loudest.