In the fourth part of the series, I’ll share with you the good, bad and ugly of the Internet and how it continues to change the way we sell real estate. When I first started in this business in 2002, the Internet was not in every household, our listings were printed in a binder and buyers HAD to hire an agent just to get access to the information, short of driving around and calling phone numbers on yard signs….from their landlines because cell phones weren’t all that common. A lot has changed since then and while the information has helped us work faster and smarter, there’s also a plague of mis-information: listings that have already sold, properties shown online that are not even for sale and worst of all – a completely unregulated off-MLS market of For Sale By Owners, Coming Soon listings and auction deals. Let me explain.
10. What websites are you on?
There are several websites that buyers and sellers can find me on. The most common are probably Zillow (which also owns Trulia), Realtor.com, Keller Williams and HomeSnap, but you’re sure to find my name on other lesser-known websites because that’s how these websites make money. These search sites allow buyers and sellers to find listed properties, school and crime statistics, local agents and some even have a review database where you can get past client testimonials. The challenge with these websites is that when a buyer expresses an interest in a listing, clicking a link to schedule a tour or request more information, the request goes to an agent that has paid for that buyer’s contact information. This is very common. Brokerage websites are the only place I’m aware that the listing agent to the property receives the inquiry directly from the buyer. All other websites will sell the leads generated to paying agents, some shelling out as much as $5,000 a month per zip code.
Zillow has been under fire from the Realtor community many times. Notorious for offering listings that are no longer available, these leads were sold back to agents where the buyer was informed of the accurate status and subject to a bait-and-switch. “That listing is no longer available, how about these?” A lose for the buyer and a lose for the agent.
Also on Zillow are Coming Soon listings. Properties that will be coming on the market but aren’t available for sale just yet. These manually entered listings are separate from the local MLS and not likely to be found by your agent unless they’re searching both MLS and Zillow databases. And then there are the auction sites. Thanks to HGTV, we have more investor clients than ever – buyers looking for WAY-below market deals (think $60k single family homes as seen on “Fixer-Upper”) and these auction listings cater to a frenzy of interest that conveniently excludes agents. Such a mess. Bottom line, these deals don’t exist in Northern Virginia and if they do, there’s no agent involved.
The best way to search for properties is directly from the MLS or the public-facing HomeSnap. While it’s not the most user-friendly, updates are frequent and the information is guaranteed to be accurate (or as accurate as what the listing agent input).
11. What type of real estate certification or secondary education have you gone through?
I’ll be brutally honest and admit that up until this year, I didn’t have any designations. I didn’t see any value in them since I was already selling plenty of houses. They cost a decent amount of money, take up quite a bit of time and I get a certificate (and lapel pin which costs $7.50 in shipping) that says I’m an expert. After being asked this question about a half a dozen times, I went and got four designations for nothing more than bragging rights. I’m an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), a Military Relocation Professional (MRP), an Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and an e-Pro (which means I utilize technology.) So there. I have four designations.
12. Will you provide me with at least three references?
When I ask buyers and sellers who else they’re interviewing as their agent, I get some interesting responses – “My cousin”, “My neighbor”, “A friend of mine does this part-time.” The truth is, so long as everything goes perfectly, this job really isn’t very difficult. With buyers finding the homes they want to buy, seeing properties at open houses and making offers that require no negotiation (full price), real estate agents can look like grossly overpaid paper pushers. That is, until something goes wrong. Rather than highlight the buyers and sellers that were easy, I’d like to share some very happy clients that endured some high-stress scenarios.
Dawn and Brendan of Aldie, Danielle and Tom of Bristow and Matt and Lauren of Vienna – all the same story. How do you buy and sell with a simultaneous settlement? With busy life schedules, pets, kids, careers – it requires aggressive planning, intense preparation and a lot of teamwork. Each have stories of challenges but can tell you the sacrifices were worth it once they were in their new homes.
George from Clifton. I met George several years ago as he came through an open house intent on testing my market knowledge. This guy knew square footage, lot size, days on market – and this isn’t all that uncommon. A lot of people come through open houses better educated about the market than the host agent. Fortunately for me, George was impressed with what I knew about the area he was interested in. Fast forward several years, George and I have worked through about a half a dozen transactions, both investments and buying and selling his primary residence.
If you’d like to chat with a past client that has been through a similar situation, reach out and I’ll pair you with someone that can speak to your concerns.
If you missed the first part of the series, click here.
To read the second part of the series, click here.
To read the third part of the series, click here.
In the coming weeks, I’ll continue posting the questions and my responses so that you can learn about me and how I operate my business. Have a question you want me to address? Post it below!