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Imagine you are interviewing for an outstanding criminal defense attorney and the first question you have on your list of priorities is “What is your hourly rate?”. Personally, that would be a question I have and perhaps a consideration, but honestly it would probably be pretty low on my top list of priorities, because long ago I learned that you get what you pay for, and for something this serious I wouldn’t want to fly in E class. Now please don’t misunderstand me, I am truly a shopper when it’s something where all things are equal, and the outcome doesn’t have a great significance to either my security, my health, or my financial equities and assets. An example is the brand of catsup or pickles that I purchase. Ok, I’ll probably get some feedback to this, but honestly, I’m not a connoisseur and wouldn’t know the difference. I’ll bet you already know where I’m going with this. Yes! You care correct.
I’ll be the first to tell you, real estate agents are desperate for listings, especially in our current westside market where properties can easily sell in a week in multiple offers or for all cash. Don’t be too fast to say, “what kind of wisdom and knowledge does it take to navigate a flood of buyers, over bidding each other for prices that we never imagined in our wildest dreams?”. Even though you might interview a few recent sellers, who might say, “I feel I overpaid for the services we received, the majority of sellers who employ top real estate agents from the Real Trends Top 1,000 list or agents recognized in their geographic area, who are referred by satisfied friends, would say, “we felt very satisfied with the service and the outcome, and would refer our agent to a friend”. Real estate agents do not charge an hourly fee, the same way an architect doesn’t charge an hourly fee, or an artist who is commissioned to complete a project. Sure, you can hire a modestly talented craftsman or an amateur artist, but again expect to get what you pay for.
A full service Real brings a lot to you before the “For Sale” sign goes into the ground. To start; your “full service” agent has a “reputation”. That reputation is now extended to you and your property, in the same way as the name of an attorney who is well known for consistently prevailing, representing notable cases and respective parties brings. An agent with a track record and reputation has a following. His or her alerts, texts, emails, notifications, social media draws immediate attention. People know the name, respect the name and take these agents emails, alerts and memos seriously giving them greater value.
What this translates to is, more attention to your listing and more respect to your price and listing guidelines. All these things add to your final outcome potentially. Imagine how many more contacts, connections, past clients, agents, business managers, attorneys, CPA’s and followers a top agent has, compared to a rookie or a personal friend in the mediocre ranks. Nothing against an average agent, but there are reasons that goes 80% of today’s business is transacted by the top 10% of agents in the nation. Totally committed, full time top producer’s typically work over 70 hours a week and they don’t get paid unless they close escrow.
A top agent, deserving of their commission is a talented first string negotiator. Strategy and negotiating skills are easily overlooked in the interview process, but these skills are critical and deserve your very careful consideration. Ask questions, speak with past clients and read reviews to verify strategy and negotiation skills, as there is really little that is more important.
Track record to closing and fall outs is also very important. A top agent has an impeccable record for escrow closing with very few fall outs on an annual basis, in fact, a top agent should consistently maintain a 95% closing record, regardless to changing market conditions. A top agent is detail meticulous, crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s, always researching issues before bringing them to a seller for consideration and staying in front of contingency dates and possible deal breakers before problems set in.
Finally, the big down fall and disconnect between an agent and a client is highly predictable when the agent is a good agent, but ends up delegating everything to team members. A busy agent is a “good agent” but cannot be an agent too busy to be “hands on” for you. It’s the kiss of death when your agent starts disappearing on you midway into a deal. The agent deserving of a full commission gives you their undivided attention, always making you feel as though you are their only client sending you updates and feedback by the personal text, emails or personally hand-written notes. A good agent will pick up the phone to call you before you start to wonder “what happened to my agent?”. You shouldn’t even know they have other clients because they are so personally attentive, that it just feels like there is nothing else on their mind other than you. A top agent needs staff and an assistant to help them, but not to run your business and certainly not to replace them when in fact you hired an agent who you felt chemistry with anticipating he or she to be there for you, the entire way.
Now, after you covered all of these important issues, go ahead and ask, “what is your commission?’. Yes, you need to be fully informed and you also wan to know how long the commitment you are making is for. You might even ask about what your cancellation rights might be. Take the process seriously and remember that agents who consistently sell with high ratings and top reviews are usually worth paying full commission. Also, remember to concentrate on your equity and final proceeds more so than the commission, because at the end of the day who cares about the commission. What’s important is what you end up with.
The agent you choose needs to be more than a salesperson, your agent needs to have an earned reputation as an “Advisor”. The person must be someone you would implicitly trust with your largest asset, which very likely is the case when selling your home. Would the agent put your needs ahead of his or hers? I certainly hope so. This is very important, you need to feel confident about this, not just based on the agent saying so, but based on his or her track record, reputation, testimonials and reviews.