If you’re a real estate agent who sends regular marketing pieces to your past clients, contacts, and/or a farm, you might be surprised to know what your potential future real estate clients are thinking about towards the end of the year. (I’m talking right now primarily about home buyers, but of course their mindset affects future sellers as well.)
“Quit now” was marketing expert Seth Godin’s Plan A advice a few days ago to the group of real estate agents he called “order takers”. (You know, the ones who were just carried along by the great housing market we had until a year or so ago.)
To be fair, we ALL benefited from those conditions. My bet is that nearly every agent can take a business gut check right now and find areas where he or she could up their game in marketing or offerings.
Seth’s Plan B is what I wanted to talk about – actually, the second part of Plan B.
OK, here’s an example of why I believe Zillow’s home value estimates should be used primarily for recreational purposes:
A few days ago a friend called me because his kids are selling their home in one of the cities near Seattle. It’s been listed in the high $200’s for over a month, down $20K from where it started a few months ago, but it still hasn’t gotten any offers.
I was shocked last year to lose some buyers that I’d been working with in the 700K to 1 million price range. I referred them to a well-known agent who worked with many high end clients, and who was a “neighborhood expert” in their area of preference. I assumed it would be a perfect match.
Here’s a reminder of how easy it can be to overlook important information when representing clients in a transaction. I’m sharing it in the hopes it will help someone avoid making the same mistake in the future:
A couple of points from my recent comment on Redfin’s blog:
(Actually, my comment that was submitted to but never made it onto Redfin’s blog…)
The concept of not having a buyer’s agent present at a home inspection (especially since it typically means having the listing agent there with the buyers instead) makes no sense. There are many things a buyer agent knows from years in the business that a buyer would have no reason to ever know, and that the listing agent has no motivation or obligation to point out.
Consider the value of the buyer’s agent who explains to an unwary buyer that a $200 sewer scoping inspection can save them tens of thousands later, or that you often need to tweak the contract language slightly in order to guarantee the buyer a thorough septic insepction? (Twice this has saved my buyer clients money, once to the tune of a $10,000 new septic system.)
And how about just knowing how much to pay for a home? Before I help my buyer clients make an offer on a house we basically do a comparable market analysis, exactly as though it were our home and we were about to put it on the market. Pricing a home correctly (to hopefully about 1% or less plus or minus, not, say, 7% plus or minus, as per Zillow’s stated range of error for Zestimates) takes skill and expertise, and when you look at the money involved, the potential loss that a buyer risks from an incorrect estimate eclipses the amount they stand to get credited back from the buyer’s agent who doesn’t show up.
I have yet to see an online estimator that could tell me when a home has high or low ceilings, an open or boxed up floor plan, good or crummy light, or a large or unusually small master bedroom – just a few of the key intangibles that make a big difference in market value.
The buyer who purchases without this kind of advice simply has no awareness of what they’re not getting. It’s true that “You don’t know what you don’t know” – but it can still cost you plenty.